Violin Sonata No. 9 in A, "Kreutzer", Op. 47- Beethoven
Alfred Cortot, piano
27, 28th May 1929, Salle Chopin & Salle Pleyel, Paris
Issued as 4 HMV 78s, D.B.1328-D.B.1331
Matrix numbers 2-08068 - 2-08075, takes 3, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3
Transfer and Natural Sound remastering by Andrew Rose, February 2007
(Duration 30'22 ")
This XR-remastered recording is available in mono and Ambient Stereo. For more information on Ambient Stereo click here.
the most popular Violin Sonata of all time gets a fabulous treatment here
by two of the most eminent chamber musicians of the twentieth century.
Every single note of this superb recording is a joy to hear as the musicians
draw you into this sublime work. As Robert Stumpf II said in a review
of this performance at Classical Net, "...this
is the real thing. The players here are making music, not just playing
When I initially revisited this recording and gave it the Pristine Audio Natural Sound treatment I was delighted with the sound quality I achieved - but ultimately decided a completely new restoration might yield even better results. Hence this 2007 restoration and remastering, direct from the original 78s.
Initial reactions to the 2007 Pristine Audio Natural Sound EQ remastering:
"As a string player, who was born on the day Thibaud and Cortot completed that recording of the Kreutzer, I have to say that I never thought such restoration would be possible. Both the violin and the piano sound are perfectly captured, and it is possible to sit back and enjoy the marvellous performance without making the least concession to the date. Astonishing to think that nearly 78 years on we are the first to hear the performance as it must have sounded in May 1929. More power to your arm!" [MH]
OF BEETHOVEN'S SONATA NO.9 FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO
Jacques Thibaud, Alfred Cortot, (1929)
"Kreutzer" sonata, named for a violinist who found
the music inexplicable and refused to play it, has often been
seen as the "Eroica" of Beethoven's violin sonatas
in that it greatly expanded the time limits and the virtuosity
of the form. Unlike the "Eroica", however, it didn't
provide the musical depth to accompany this expansion. Beethoven's
greatest violin sonatas remain the 7th and the 10th, but this
work is surely the most popular and an obligatory stop for
all violin virtuosi over the age of fourteen.
why do we care about a 76-year-old recording by two artists,
one of whom is not Heifetz and the other of whom is definitely
not Horowitz? Because this is surely the greatest recording
I've ever heard of the "Kreutzer" sonata. Why? Two
reasons: (1) they tone down the virtuoistic display and find
poetry in every measure and (2) they treat the work as early
middle-period Beethoven (Op. 47--the Waldstein sonata had
not yet been written) rather than proto-elephantine Paganini.
True, it is a display work written for George Hightower, the
Afro-British virtuoso (who was known to spice up his concerts
by repeating an encore by playing it with the violin upside
down), but it is 1804, not 1834. Take the opening bare violin
line played by Thibaud: it is so poetic; when the piano comes
in, it doesn't bang to prove how much more powerful it is
than the violin. One is not impatient for the fireworks to
begin; one is caught up in the opening. The ensuing violin
presto is really exciting for being a little subdued; the
sharp chords don't seem ugly like World War I barbed wire.
The slow movement has always seemed a little dull to me. Thibaud
and Cortot speed it up and sharpen it up and instead of being
pretty vapid it just seems pretty. The last movement goes
like the wind, but it's a wind that knocks your hat off, not
your house down.
sound is very good; only in a few places did I notice surface
noise. What is more important is that the 1929 message-the
message of poetry and form and restraint-is delivered in this
remastering with tremendous impact. Or to put it more crudely,
the cantabiles really sing and the sforzandos really sting!