This highly interesting series from the enterprising Metier label combines sterling and polished accounts of Beethoven's violin sonatas together with rare works by his contemporaries. Thus whilst Sheppard and Shorr can relish in the titanic tasks Beethoven creates for them, there is also time to explore some long forgotten highways and byways of the repertoire.
The Op. 30 sonatas are somewhat less intense than those which came later but the soloists still invest a lot of energy and fabulous dedication to their task. I greatly enjoyed the Ries Sonata which is also very melodic and carefully constructed – a tribute to this rather overlooked Scandinavian composer.
Op. 23 and the "Spring" sonata bring about considerably heftier challenges for Sheppard and Skorr but they sail through proceedings in quite disarming simplicity. This time the accompanying work is by Franz Clement, an all but unknown composer who informs the melodies from Gretry's equally obscure opera "Barbe Bleu" with great beauty and finesse.
The recordings are quite excellent on all counts with the violin and piano carefully balanced to create a stimulating chamber ambience. The discs are further enhanced by fastidiously detailed and copious notes by Peter Sheppard who really knows his stuff and are an ideal accompaniment to this scholarly series.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech