Sunday, 6 August 2017

Corey Cerovsek: Beethoven

Eight of Beethoven's ten sonatas for violin and piano were written when he was in his late 20s or very early thirties. The Kreutzer Op 47 was an exception, as was the late, lonely sonata in G major Op 96. Being first-class Beethoven, the music is sophisticated but not especially profound at this early age. All ten works are first class, though I am not a fan of the Kreutzer, finding it over-long and somewhat belligerent at times.

A generous friend presented me with a box of the ten sonatas recorded in 2006 by the Canadian Corey Cerovsek and the Finn Paavali Jumppanen. This joins numerous complete sets on my shelves, including Grumiaux-Haskil, Barati-Würtz, Kreisler-Rupp, Faust-Melnikov, Dumay-Pires, Capuçon-Braley, Ferras-Barbizet, Ibragimova-Tiberghien, Kavakos-Pace, Suk-Panenka, Tetzlaff-Longuich. A few sets, including Pamela Frank, and Joseph Szigeti, are long gone. No lack of first-class choices when it comes to the Beethoven violin and piano sonatas.

Cerovsek and Jumppanen were around the age when Beethoven wrote these sonatas when they made the recording in 2006. Cerovsek reveals himself as a pupil of Joseph Gingold – who was a pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe. Many of Gingold's pupils seem to have learned a sweet tone, viz also Nai-Yuan Hu, also a Gingold pupil. Cerovsek here reminds me of Arthur Grumiaux, and maybe Renaud Capuçon. It's a nice set of the sonatas, with the two young men forming an excellent duo partnership, with constant attention to dynamics and detail. Balance is OK, though balancing a violin and a piano must rival balancing a duet for trumpet and flute, for difficulty. After a marathon listening, it is probably the piano playing that stays foremost in my mind, though that may also be down to Beethoven's intentions. If I ever record the ten Beethoven violin and piano sonatas, I will contact Paavali Jumppanen. Forced to grab a set of the Beethoven sonatas before exile to a desert island, I am not sure what set I would grasp, though it would be no great loss if it turned out to be Cerovsek-Jumppanen.

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