Violin Sonata No. 1 in D major Op. 12 No. 1
Violin Sonata No. 8 in G major Op. 30 No. 3
Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major Op. 47 Kreutzer
In his first violin sonata cycle, op. 12, Beethoven was already moving away from the convention of saddling the violinist with the unalluring role of accompanist in a piano sonata, whereby the string instrument played long stretches in unison with the piano part’s right hand. That step may have had to do with the fact that during his training in Bonn he received lessons on both violin and viola from the court musician Rovantius and therefore was able to approach violin sonatas from a string player’s perspective.
This, however, led contemporaries to complain about the “piling up of difficulty upon difficulty” and the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung’s critic, in his review of the “Kreutzer” Sonata, op. 47, to write of “artistic terrorism”, describing the work as a “quasi-concerto” that even “two virtuosi for whom nothing is difficult” would have to rehearse painstakingly. The composition was originally dedicated to the violin virtuoso Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower. Beethoven and he had a falling out after the performance, however, and when it appeared in print in 1805, the sonata was dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer, one of the founders of the French school of violin playing.
Kreutzer rejected it as unplayable, a “composition outrageusement inintelligible”, and never performed the piece in public. Nevertheless, the “Kreutzer” Sonata, with its tumultuous, thrillingly virtuosic Presto finale, is inextricably linked to his name. It is still one of the most popular of all violin sonatas. Artist in residenceLeonidas Kavakos’s all-Beethoven evening with pianist Emanuel Ax will be rounded off by the G major Sonata, op. 30 No. 3.