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ClassicsOnline Home » BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas Op. 12, Nos. 1-3
"the combination of Takako Nishizaki and Jeno Jando has a certain electricity"
"Violinist Takako Nishizaki and acclaimed pianist Jenoe Jando prove to be quite a combination"
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Violin Sonatas, Op. 12, Nos. 1-3
Ludwig van Beethoven's early musical training at home in Bonn had
provided him with some ability as a string player as well as with more
remarkable virtuosity on the keyboard. As a court musician, following his
inadequate father and his highly distinguished grandfather in the service of
the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, he was employed both as court organist and
as a viola-player. When he finally left Bonn for Vienna in 1792, it has been suggested
that he took violin lessons from Ignaz Schuppanzigh, a former viola-player, six
years Beethoven's junior, who had recently turned to the violin and a
professional career that was to be of some distinction. Beethoven's memorandum
book, at least, contains the note Schupp. 3 times a W., which others suppose a
reference to Schuppanzigh's father, a professor at the Realschule, who might
have been recruited to help make up the deficiencies in the young man's general
education. He also received instruction on the violin from Wenzel Krumpholtz, a
former member of Haydn's orchestra at Esterhaza, who had recently joined the
Vienna court orchestra, a musician who showed a rare early understanding of
Beethoven's work as a composer. Nevertheless his early career in Vienna was
primarily as a pianist of considerable virtuosity, a course of life limited
from the turn of the country by his deafness and by his growing prowess as a
composer of the most remarkable power and originality.
Beethoven's compositions for violin and piano cover a period from about
1790 unti11818. An early set of variations on a theme from Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro and a Rondo were followed by the first complete
violin and piano sonatas, a set of three published in 1799 and composed during
the course of the preceding two years. The sonatas were dedicated to the
Imperial Kapellmeister Antonio Salieri, from whom Beethoven had sought lessons
on his first arrival in Vienna, acquiring from him a growing understanding of
vocal writing. While early lessons from Haydn were soon abandoned, the lessons
with Salieri, for which no charge was made, continued for at least ten years.
The new sonatas were not altogether well received. The critic of the
Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung describes them as strange and bizarre, and
finds further fault with an element he describes as learned and unnatural,
heaping difficulties on difficulties, while admitting that may have some
attraction for those in search of musical perversities. For later generations
the sonatas came to occupy an important position in the duo repertoire,
examples of sonatas in which the violin offers no mere optional accompaniment
to a solo piano sonata but serves as an equal partner.
The Sonata in D major, Opus 12 No.1,
opens with a movement of some brilliance, which nevertheless contains an
intriguing and necessary element of counterpoint, a fact that some critics may
have felt unnatural. The second movement consists of a theme, announced first
by the piano, and a series of four variations, and the sonata ends with a
rondo, its principal theme first declared by the piano, followed by the violin,
framing intervening episodes of an unexpected harmonic turn.
The last of the set, Sonata No.3 in
E flat major, contains elements of virtuoso piano writing in its
first movement. The C major slow movement has a characteristic principal
theme, appearing first in the piano, an element of song that the early Leipzig
critic, one of those later stigmatised by Beethoven as oxen, failed to notice.
Difficulties, however, there are, not least in the harmonic explorations of
the final rondo, which opens with a cheerful but potentially dramatic
Takako Nishizaki is one of Japan's finest violinists. After studying
with her father, Shinji Nishizaki, she became the first student of Shinichi
Suzuki, the creator of the famous Suzuki Method of violin teaching for
children. Subsequently she went to Japan's famous Toho School of Music, and to
the Juilliard School in the United States, where she studied with Joseph Fuchs.
Takako Nishizaki is one of the most frequently recorded violinists in
the world today. She has recorded ten volumes of her complete Fritz Kreisler
Edition, many contemporary Chinese violin concertos, among them the Concerto by
Du Mingxin, dedicated to her, and a growing number of rare, previously
unrecorded violin concertos, among them concertos by Spohr, Bériot, Cui,
Respighi, Rubinstein and Joachim. For Naxos she has recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mozart's Violin Concertos, Sonatas by Mozart and
Beethoven and the Bach, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Bruch and Brahms
The Hungarian pianist Jeno
Jandó has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including
first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the
chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977.
He has recorded for Naxos all the piano concertos and sonatas of Mozart. Other
recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as
well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto
and Paganini Rhapsody and
Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.
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BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas Op. 12, Nos. 1-3