Beethoven – Violin Sonatas 1, 10 & 5 ‘Spring’
October 2012, Brussels, over coffee. Surprise.
Gilles Ledure, director of the Salle Flagey, suggests that we should read through Beethoven’s ten sonatas. ‘Come and play them here when you’re ready.’ We look at each other, wide-eyed. We’re twenty-five, we don’t know each other very well, we’ve never played together. We start worrying.
April 2016, Brussels, over coffee. Surprise, again.
Beethoven’s sonatas have become the core of our musical lives. Rehearsed, tried out in concert, given a rest, rehearsed again. We’re about to play the whole cycle on three consecutive nights – at Flagey, where else? A recording of three sonatas has just been released by Alpha. We pinch ourselves.
December 2017. A studio in Hilversum, three more sonatas. Surprise, even now?
We’ve ended up getting used to it. Because anyone who frequents Beethoven for a long time is no longer surprised to be surprised. With him, everything is coherent, but nothing is scripted in advance. So we get caught up in the game, we experiment. Here, on a piano with parallel strings. The resonance of Chris Maene Straight Strung illuminates this music in a subtly different way. We enjoy ourselves.
This second instalment has been released. Four sonatas remain to be recorded, and it’s impossible to know where Beethoven will lead us. But we don’t worry anymore. We’ll let ourselves be surprised.
Remarkable in every way— Diapason *****
Every note is a pleasure. If the remaining four sonatas maintain this level, the series will equal those of Haskil/Grumiaux, Ashkenazy/Perlman or Argerich/Kremer.— Luister *****
Whether or not these two artists intended an approach that would place Libeer’s piano on equal terms with Gatto’s unglossy chamber-scale violin sound I don’t know; but the instrument allows Libeer to be expansive, brisk and brilliant as required, without ever threatening to overwhelm his partner. This is deeply unshowy Beethoven but it’s intensely sincere and it sounds entirely new. Try it.— Gramophone magazine
Fascinating and singular— Classica *****
Admirable tout du long, leur Printemps impose comme dans l’ensemble de l’album un classicisme un rien hautain qui libère Beethoven de ses tempêtes.— ArtaMag