Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas
Barbara Govatos, violin; Marcantonio Barone, piano
4 CD Box Set
Barbara Govatos and Marcantonio Barone have been performing as a duo for
over a decade, which makes their traversal of Beethoven's ten violin
sonatas so enjoyable. There's an easy give-and-take between these
performers that turn the music into a lively conversation between old
Both Govatos and Barone play with precision, which makes them
well-matched. These are very clean performances. And energy isn't
sacrificed for accuracy either. The early sonatas -- especially the Op.
12 set -- sound lively and exuberant.
I especially enjoyed the "Spring" sonata (op. 24). Govatos' playing was
light and airy. Her bow seemed to just glide over the top of the
strings. Another high point of the set for me was the the seventh sonata
(Op. 30, No. 2). The duo's smooth execution and full-throttle rush to
the big cadence points ramped up the excitement. Contrast that with the
hear-breaking delicacy of the slow movement, and you have a real winner.
The "Kreutzer" sonata (Op. 47) sounded a little restrained at first, but
the energy level picked up as it went along. Overall, these are solid
performances. The drama is there -- it's just not over the top.
The recording quality of this release is quite high. There's not a lot
of room ambiance, but the instruments are recorded with enough distance
to provide some natural resonance. The result is a very transparent
sound that makes it easy to hear the interplay between the instruments.