A daily dose of Hughes; Jimmy Hughes aka James Michael Hughes – Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata – Three Decades of Sonic Progress Wiped Out.

A few days ago I compared Itzhak Perlman’s 1975 Decca recording of Beethoven’s Kreutzer violin sonata with the 1961 set on DG played by Wolfgang Schneiderhan – both on CD. As always, the Perlman recording sounded fabulous; big and full, with beautiful depth and spaciousness, yet plenty of body and presence. The piano tone was rounded, yet powerful and brilliant in tone. Then I played Schneiderhan’s recording.

Now this must have been among the first stereo recordings of the cycle – it actually replaced an earlier mono set Schneiderhan made for DG in 1953 with pianist Wilhelm Kempff. Interestingly, the 1961 DG wasn’t as far behind the Decca, technically, as I expected. Okay, DG’s piano seemed more recessed and less immediate than Decca’s, with a ‘smaller’ tonal range. But the result was still natural and believable.

Schneiderhan’s violin was very ‘present’; plenty of detail caught, with crisp powerful dynamics. Out of pure curiosity, I dug out Schneiderhan’s 1953 mono set on CD, and was greeted by a smaller more contained sound that was nonetheless very pure and clear. With a slight increase in volume level, the sense of presence was restored. The sound became perfectly acceptable – sweet, smooth, and beautifully open.

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