BEETHOVEN Sonatas for Fortepiano and Violin Vol 3
‘Sonatas for Fortepiano and Violin’ declares the cover of this latest release in Ian Watson and Susanna Ogata’s cycle of what some people still call the Beethoven violin sonatas. Quite right too – not merely because they’re performed on period instruments but because it’s a useful corrective to the idea that one instrument is necessarily dominant in these works by the 31-year-old Beethoven. They’re a partnership; and that, happily, is exactly what you get in these joyous interpretations.
A thoroughly appealing one, too, with Ogata audibly playing off the colours that Watson draws from his instrument, and he in turn complementing her clear, sunlit sound. Duncan Druce, reviewing an earlier release in this cycle, found Watson’s playing over-emphatic, and I take his point: there are individual chords and gestures where Watson almost bursts the bounds of early 19th-century style. But there’s subtlety and continual alertness too – the sense of mystery he conjures in the solo phrase that opens Op 30 No 2 and the understated way he shades the second movement of Op 30 No 1 away into silence. In the C minor tempests of Op 30 No 2, he’s able to evoke rolling thunder without any loss in rhythmic clarity.
And Ogata is with him every step of the way: witty, responsive, making the tops of phrases gleam. There’s something positively gleeful about the way the pair deliver the opening gambit of Op 30 No 3, and the same sonata’s Haydnesque finale practically swings. Among period-instrument pairings, Midori Seiler and Jos van Immerseel possibly offer a more intimate perspective: more of a sense of Biedermeier salon music. But with Ogata and Watson the music sounds freshly made, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.