Performance **** Recording ****
BBC Music Magazine - September 2010
"Period instruments relocate these two works in a darkly Romantic sound world."
Gramophone - September 2010
"It opens like a Bach solo, unfolds like a symphony, and finally sweeps all before it with titanic power: Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata is one of the miracles of the repertory, (as Tolstoy’s homage acknowledged), and is here freshly re-imagined by Mullova. Her tense, wiry sound combines ideally with the 1822 piano that Bezuidenhout can pound to its very limits without overwhelming her: there is beautiful use of the quiet dampened register, which, combined with pizzicato violin, sounds magical. The much earlier E flat sonata is perky and driven, with a hilarious final rondo that hints at Beethoven’s revolutions to come."
The Observer - 23 May 2010
"This new Viktoria Mullova release will probably raise as many hackles as it does roars of approval. Those who prefer their Beethoven on a modern concert grand a metal -strung violin should perhaps shy away, because Mullova here uses her 1750 gut-strung instrument, joined by the South African born Kristian Bezuidenhout on an 1822 fortetiano. But even doubters and period-performance sceptics might be persuaded by the sheer musicality of these performances, and by the fresh blend of colours that they encompass.Mullova is an interpretive force to be reckoned with. The path she has been treading towards a mode of expression appropriate to the music has been a process of discovery both for her and for us, most recently manifest in her recording of the Bach solo sonatas and partitas (ONYX4040). She has not given up on the big tone needed for Shostakovich, Sibelius or Bartok, for which her industrial-strength Stradivarious comes out of it’s case. But there is no doubt that she produces an intimate, warmer sound for these two Beethoven sonatas, while losing nothing of that crisp articulation, emphasis and textural animation for which her other persona is famous. There is a real sense here of a musician doing something she believes in, not for any narrow ’authentic’ purpose but because it brings the music to life in a new way. The mellow timbre of the fortepiano is a limpid companion toMullova’s expressive legato lines, and has the capacity to buoy up her more ebullient flights with airy effervescence. Concentration and seriousness of intent in the playing of these sonatas are also compelling features of a gratifying disc that commands the closest of attention."
The Daily Telegraph - 29 May 2010
"Gut strings suit Viktoria Mullova. The violinist’s exploration of historically informed performance performance practice continues with this remarkable recording of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and Sonata in E flat with fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout. The pitch is dark, (approximately a quarter tone below modern concert pitch), the articulation bold, the textures volatile. The E flat’s slow movement opens with a mere wisp of sound, the Kreutzer with chords of exquisite gravity. A provocative and highly expressive reading."
The Independent On Sunday - 30 May 2010
"Among mainstream big-name violin soloists, Viktoria Mullova is rare in her enthusiasm for period style and historical practice. For her first recording of Beethoven violin sonatas, she has chosen one of the foremost, and arguably the most brilliant, of today’s period fortepiano players, the South African Kristian Bezuidenhout. He uses a beautiful, crisp, clear ’Hammerklavier’ built by Anton Walter und Sohn in 1822, while Mullova has re-stringed her Guadagnini violin with gut, which she plays with ’lighter, transitional bow’ (that is, of the classical period). It would be wrong to say that she adopts wholesale the stylistic manners of ’baroque to classical’ specialists: these are big boned, exciting readings, played in a modern style, but profiting from the more transparent sound of the gut-stringed instrument and light bow, enabling a perfect balance with the delicate fortepiano. In the earlier sonata - designated for piano and violin, with the keyboard instrument, Beethoven’s own, having very much the upper hand(s) - Mullova defers to Bezuidenhout’s mercurial brilliance, but she greedily embraces every opportunity to display her bravura technique in the Kreutzer, written for the extraordinary mulatto player George Polgreen Bridgetower, from whom Beethoven later withdrew the dedication in favour of the French virtuoso Rodolphe Kreutzer. Mullova’s drama in the grand concerto-like opening movement is offset by the supple lyricism of the andante variations and the irresistible brio and wit of the presto . Sheer delight." ****
The Sunday Times - 30 May 2010
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