At first I thought the recorded balance did something of a disservice to Huw Watkins’s piano – not because Beethoven gives the instrument pride of place in titular terms, but because these are duo-Sonatas – although I have come to the conclusion that the sound accurately reflects the players’ differing personalities, he tending to discretion (although greater presence and projection is needed at times), whereas Tamsin Waley-Cohen is more outspoken, forceful and edgy on occasion.
In this first volume of the pair’s complete survey of Beethoven’s ‘Violin Sonatas’ for Signum – here Opuses 12/1, 24 (Spring) & 30/3 – there is much to admire: the musicians’ poise, poetic expression, variety of tone and dynamics, wit and rapidity, and, of course, the nourishing music itself, served from within by these artists.
Of particular note is a delightfully and appropriately vernal account of the ‘Spring’ Sonata, brought off with freshness, sparkle and affection, and in which Watkins is consistently more to the fore; of the engineers credited, working in the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings, 9-11 September last year, maybe this is the work of Mike Hatch. Whatever, this won’t be The Last time I listen to this particular Spring – for the alluring address afforded the first movement, the rapt contemplation of the Adagio, the frisky Scherzo, and the gambolling Finale.
I look forward to the next instalment. Meanwhile, this current release is on Signum Classics SIGCD618.