Beethoven Violin Sonatas at the Wigmore Hall


streamed from the Wigmore Hall *****
After their recent triumphant recital at the Wigmore Hall, Slovenian violinist Lana Trotovsek and Spanish-Catalan pianist Maria Canvigueral returned for the latest in the venue's streamed online performances, transcending all the limitations imposed by the current situation.
Sound quality cannot be the same as when experiencing a live performance, not least in such an acoustically comfortable room, so we could not quite fully appreciate the gorgeously rich tone of Trotovsek's instrument. Visually, concentrating upon a tiny computer screen becomes wearing, but adroit camera-work here gave us several perspectives, including some we would never experience live in the concert-hall unless we were swinging from the chandeliers.
The duo have made a speciality of Beethoven Violin Sonatas, and here we heard three of them, beginning with a joyous account of No. 8 in G major. Everything here summed up what is wonderful about the collaboration between these two: sunny spontaneity; intuitive balance and empathy of ensemble; security of intonation and supple, athletic bowing from Trotovsek, and understated, totally effective pianism from Canvigueral.
Particularly gorgeous here was the unaffected simplicity of the Tempo di Minuetto (one of the duo's party-pieces), followed by the peasant feel to the finale.
Equally bucolic is the Spring Sonata, Opus 24. Here violin and piano are in true partnership (many earlier works had given prominence to the piano, with the violin as a supplement), to which the performers responded with lyricism tempered with quicksilver interchanges. The slow movement quietly built in intensity, and the scherzo was terse and witty.
Finally in this generous programme came the Sonata no.7 in C minor, the performers alert to its symphonic impulses (what else in such a key?) and shifting moods, in a reading which managed to convey both technical accomplishment and heartfelt spirituality. Their grasp of dramatic contrasts and intensity built to a thrilling coda.
As an encore we were given the Adagio from the A major Sonata. We had already enjoyed wall-to-wall Beethoven, perhaps stamina-sapping for both performers and listeners. perhaps something lighter would have made a refreshing sorbet.
Christopher Morley

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