BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas Op. 30, Nos. 1-3 (Jeno Jando/ Martin Sauer/ Takako Nishizaki) (Naxos: 8.550286)
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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, Op. 30, No.1
Sonata for Violin and Piano in C Minor, Op. 30, No.2
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major, Op. 30, No.3
Ludwig van Beethoven's early musical training at home in Bonn hadprovided him with some ability as a string player as well as with moreremarkable virtuosity on the keyboard. As a court musician, he followed hisinadequate father and his highly distinguished grandfather in the service ofthe Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, employed both as court organist and as aviola-player. When he finally left Bonn for Vienna in 1792, it has beensuggested that he took violin lessons from Ignaz Schuppanzigh, a formerviola-player, six years Beethoven's junior, who had recently turned to theviolin and a professional career that was to be of some distinction.
Beethoven's memorandum book, at least, contains the note Schupp. 3times a W., which others suppose a reference to Schuppanzigh's father, aprofessor at the Realschule, who might have been recruited to help make up thedeficiencies in the young man's general education. He also received instructionon the violin from Wenzel Krumpholtz, a former member of Haydn's orchestra atEsterhaza, who had recently joined the Vienna court orchestra, a musician whoshowed a rare early understanding of Beethoven's work as a composer.
Nevertheless his early career in Vienna was primarily as a pianist ofconsiderable virtuosity, a course of life limited from the turn of the centuryby his deafness and by his growing prowess as a composer of the most remarkablepower and originality.
Beethoven's compositions for violin and piano cover a period from about1790 until 1818. An early set of variations on a theme from Mozart's opera TheMarriage of Figaro and a Rondo were followed by the first complete violin andpiano sonatas, a set of three published in 1799 and composed during the courseof the preceding two years. The sonatas were dedicated to the ImperialKapellmeister Antonio Salieri, from whom Beethoven had sought lessons on hisfirst arrival in Vienna, acquiring from him a growing understanding of vocalwriting. While early lessons from Haydn were soon abandoned, the lessons withSalieri, for which no charge was made, continued for at least ten years.
The three sonatas of Opus 30 were dedicated to Tsar Alexander I ofRussia and written in 1802, at a time when Beethoven was increasingly depressedby ill health. The first of the sonatas, in the key of A major, originallyincluded the finale of the later Kreutzer Sonata. The first movement opens witha genuine duet between violin and piano, while the second theme is entrustedfirst to the keyboard. The slow movement is an expressive D major Adagio,followed by a final theme and six variations, the contrapuntal fifth of them inthe key of A minor, before the final lilting Allegro.
The second sonata of the set, in the key of C minor, opens with arhythmic figure that assumes considerable importance in the movement. Thesecond theme, in E major, offers a sprightly contrast and material for thelater contrapuntal treatment. The A flat Adagio cantabile is characteristic ofBeethoven in its singing quality, an aspect of his keyboard-playing that wasmuch admired by contemporaries. There is a lively C major Scherzo and a canonicTrio that Haydn might have approved. The last movement explores a wide range ofthe keyboard, with a gruff principal theme in C major, the key in which thesonata ends.
The third of the Opus 30 violin sonatas, in G major, opens with adramatic figure played together by violin and piano, a brief introduction to asnatch of melody, seized upon by the violin and extended. Unexpectedly thesecond subject is in D minor, followed by a D major conclusion to theexposition, a brief development that makes much of the opening figure and afinal recapitulation. The second movement, in E flat, is marked at the speed ofa Minuet. It opens with a singing melody played by the piano, followed by theviolin and later undergoing various gentle metamorphoses. The final movement, alively moto perpetuo, may sometimes remind us of Haydn, a composer from whomBeethoven, his pupil, churlishly claimed to have learned nothing. There is aninitial contrast between the rapid notes of the piano and the melody introducedabove it by the violin. From this material much of the rest of the movement isderived.
Takako Nishizaki is one of Japan's finest violinists. After studyingwith her father, Shinji Nishizaki, she became the first student of ShinichiSuzuki, the creator of the famous Suzuki Method of violin teaching forchildren. Subsequently she went to Japan's famous Toho School of Music, and tothe Juilliard School in the United States, where she studied with Joseph Fuchs.
Takako Nishizaki is one of the most frequently recorded violinists inthe world today. She has recorded ten volumes of her complete Fritz KreislerEdition, many contemporary Chinese violin concertos, among them the Concerto byDu Ming-xin, dedicated to her, and a growing number of rare, previouslyunrecorded violin concertos. For Naxos she has recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mozart's Violin Concertos, Sonatas by Mozart andBeethoven and the Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Bruch and BrahmsConcertos.
Jeno Jando was born at Pecs, in south Hungary , in 1952. He started tolearn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academyof Music under Katalin Nemes and pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latteron his graduation in 1974. Jando has won a number of piano competitions inHungary and abroad, including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concoursand a first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney InternationalPiano Competition in 1977. He is currently engaged in a project to record allMozart's piano concertos for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos labelinclude the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's completepiano sonatas.