A New Discovery, a New Performance: Music for Piano and Violin
by Ludwig van Beethoven
by Elizabeth Kramer
Ludwig van Beethoven. Sonatas
for Piano and Violin, op.23 and op.30, no.2. Andreas Staier, piano and
Daniel Sepec, violin. Harmonia Mundi: HMC 901919, 2006.
At first glance, Andreas Staier and Daniel Sepec's new recording of three
of Beethoven's compositions for piano and violin is all about an instrument.
The recording celebrates a violin that surfaced in the United States in
1995, after more than one hundred years of historical anonymity, a discovery
that has led to extensive new research into the provenance of Beethoven's
string instruments. It appears very probable that the violin—which
carries the composer's seal and the initial "B" carved in its back—was
part of a set of instruments given to Beethoven by Prince Karl Lichnowsky
in 1801. Now restored and in the permanent collection of the Beethoven-Haus,
Bonn, Germany, the instrument is being introduced to a wider audience
through the present recording. Staier and Sepec's new release features
compositions that may have been premiered on the instrument over two hundred
years ago: Beethoven's early Variations on Mozart's "Se vuol ballare,"
WoO 40 (first performed 1792–93), Sonata No.4 in A Minor, op.23 (first
performed 1800), and Sonata No.7 in C Minor, op.30, no.2 (first performed