BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas Nos 6 & 9 CD review – light touch and searing focus

Kate Molleson writes ...

Violinist James Ehnes and pianist Andrew Armstrong play together with an easy spark and suppleness that only old friends really can. In the past they’ve done excellent things with Franck, Strauss, Debussy and Elgar; now they turn to Beethoven with the same combination of light touch and searing focus. There’s a clarity of ideas that means they never have to overstate – take the initial phrase of the Kreutzer Sonata, the impeccably eloquent way the opening chord clouds from radiance to shade so decisively. Flashes of white heat in that sonata subside into a graceful reading of the Sixth. For some listeners, the featherweight diction won’t be brawny or volatile enough for mid-period Beethoven, but it would be wrong to mistake cleanliness for lack of emotional heft. The uncluttered, conversational generosity of this duo speaks volumes.

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