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Book Review

Volume 14 • Number 1

Spring 2007

 

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 1801–02).

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