Beethoven | Violin Sonatas – II
October 2012, Brussels, over coffee. Surprise.
Gilles Ledure, director of the Salle Flagey, suggests that we should read through Beethoven’s ten sonatas. ‘Come and play them here when you’re ready.’ We look at each other, wide-eyed. We’re twenty-five, we don’t know each other very well, we’ve never played together. We start worrying.
April 2016, Brussels, over coffee. Surprise, again.
Beethoven’s sonatas have become the core of our musical lives. Rehearsed, tried out in concert, given a rest, rehearsed again. We’re about to play the whole cycle on three consecutive nights – at Flagey, where else? A recording of three sonatas has just been released by Alpha. We pinch ourselves.
December 2017. A studio in Hilversum, three more sonatas. Surprise, even now?
We’ve ended up getting used to it. Because anyone who frequents Beethoven for a long time is no longer surprised to be surprised. With him, everything is coherent, but nothing is scripted in advance.
So we get caught up in the game, we experiment. Here, on a piano with parallel strings. The resonance of Chris Maene Straight Strung illuminates this music in a subtly different way. We enjoy ourselves.
This second instalment has been released. Four sonatas remain to be recorded, and it’s impossible to know where Beethoven will lead us. But we don’t worry anymore. We’ll let ourselves be surprised.
The stillness that spreads across the centre of the finale of Op 96 is profound, and the dialogue that launches that particular sonata seems to emerge out of nowhere. This is deeply unshowy Beethoven but it’s intensely sincere and it sounds entirely new. Try it.— Gramophone