Frank Peter Zimmermann/Martin Helmchen
Frank Peter Zimmermann/Martin Helmchen
June 20, 2021
June 20, 2021
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Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata in G major Op. 30 No. 3
Sonata in A major Op. 47, a Kreutzer
Sonata in G major Op. 96
In Beethoven's copious chamber music production, a prominent place rightfully belongs to the Sonatas for violin and piano. Beethoven composed ten of them between 1797 and 1812: the three Sonatas of Op. 12, Op. 23, Op. 24, the three Sonatas of Op. 30, Op. 47 and Op. 96. All testify to the continuous search for a perfect sonic union between violin and piano and for innovative and sometimes daring expressive and structural solutions.

The Sonata in G major Op. 30 No. 3, composed in 1802, is the third of the collection published in 1803 and dedicated to Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Articulated in three canonical movements, the Sonata in G major was immediately appreciated for its genuine and joyful character. The initial Allegro is punctuated by a vital rhythm and vigorous unison passages, the Tempo di minuet instead sounds graceful and relaxed while the final movement - Allegro Vivacious - appears as a perpetual motion in ternary time where rhythms of russian dances peep out.

The Sonata in A major op. 47 in Kreutzer is undoubtedly the most experimental and technically daring of the ten sonatas of the Bonn master. Beethoven composed it between 1802 and 1803 initially dedicating it to the English violinist George Bridgetower, with whom he performed it for the first time in Vienna in 1803. However, following disagreements between the two musicians, Beethoven decided to dedicate his work to another violinist, Rudolph Kreutzer, whose name has since been inextricably linked to this sonata. Despite being a first-rate virtuoso, Kreutzer never actually performed it in public, fearing he would not be up to such an arduous page and which he himself defined as a "bizarre, almost crazy composition". Kreutzer's judgment, also shared by many commentators of the time, was dictated by the character of the Sonata in A major in which the chamber dimension of the genre is clearly dominated by the concertante dimension. In the overwhelming first movement (Adagio sostenuto. Presto) as well as in the final Presto, in fact, the virtuosic passages, the blatant gestures, the oratory emphasis are the rule and not the exception of a new musical writing pushed to the limits.

Beethoven's farewell to the genre of the Sonata for violin and piano is entrusted to the Sonata in G major op. 96, composed ten years after the Sonata op. 47. Dedicated to Archbishop Rodolfo, who will be the first interpreter alongside the violinist Pierre Rode, the Sonata in G major is divided into four movements of great balance. Leaving behind the fiery excesses and excesses experienced in Kreutzer, Beethoven re-sets the rules of tradition in this latest work with an initial Allegro moderato in a classical sonata form, an expressive Adagio with liederistic tones, a bold Scherzo and an Allegro final built like a Rondò with variations, all marked by a newfound regularity and composure.