Beethoven and more 2011 podcast #9: Bursting the bounds | Beethovenfest | DW | 23.09.2011
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Beethoven and more 2011 podcast #9: Bursting the bounds

Beethoven's 'Kreutzer Sonata' is one of the most famous chamber music works ever written. It inspired Leo Tolstoy to write a novella and Leos Janacek to his string quartet of the same name in 1923.

Pianist Itamar Golan

The Violin Sonata No. 9 packs an entire concerto into a duet, said Itamar Golan

Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 9 in A Major for violin and piano, op. 47 (Kreutzer): 2nd movement: Andante con variationi (I-IV)
Julian Rachlin, violin
Itamar Golan, piano
MP3 recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW) in the chamber music hall of the Beethoven House, Bonn, on September 19, 2011

When British violinist George Bridgetower and Beethoven got to know each other in 1803, the composer immediately set to work writing an extremely virtuosic violin sonata for his new friend. But before it went to print, the two firebrands found themselves in a bitter argument (supposedly involving a young woman) - and Beethoven instead dedicated the work at the last minute to French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer. Kreutzer never played the sonata however, deriding it as incomprehensible and unplayable. Clearly, Beethoven had created a work that burst the bounds of the violin sonata form.

Beethoven noted in the subtitle, "Scritte in uno stile molto concertante, quasi come d'un concerto" ("Written in a very concertante style, almost like a concerto").

"This is just the character of the Kreutzer Sonata I love," explained Itamar Golan. "You've got two men on stage playing an entire concerto with the violin and piano. There's no orchestra. It's just unbelievable."

For both Itamar Golan and Julian Rachlin, the virtuosic, passionate parts aren't the most important in the piece, but rather the meditative second movement. "It exudes lightness and peace, but Beethoven spices it up with syncopation and trills," Golan added.

Author: Marita Berg / gsw
Editor: Rick Fulker

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