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Beethoven: Violin Sonatas 1-3 - Schatz / Engeli

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas 1-3 - Schatz / Engeli

Ars Produktion  ARS 38 254

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber


Beethoven: Violin Sonatas 1-3, 12 Variations on 'Se vuol ballare'

Kamilla Schatz (violin)
Benjamin Engeli (piano)

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - June 3, 2018

Some composers have the gift to evoke cheerful, uplifting happiness in people’s minds. According to researchers, and my experience tells me they must be right, Mozart has it and Rossini possibly, too. Would someone like Beethoven have it as well?

Coming home after a long and tiresome voyage I listened to Benjamin Engeli’s newest disk, playing the piano in support of his Zurich Ensemble’s violin partner, Kamilla Schatz. It felt as though all weight on my shoulders disappeared like snow before the sun. Was it due to Beethoven, or the theme of his Twelve Variations on Mozart’s ‘Se Vuol Ballare’ (Le Nozze di Figaro)? Possibly both. Composed by a young Ludwig to impress his teacher (Joseph Haydn) with these variations on a - in those days - popular tune, it has all the catching élan of a youthful and gifted musical mind. But not only that, it did work like a magic potion, restoring my mental forces, smiling in my face. The following three violin sonatas Opus 12, also a product of a composer on the brink of becoming one of the greatest, and “for the most part written in a classical style much like that of Mozart or Haydn”, had a similar effect.

The composition is only part of the ‘secret’. The other, just as important, is its execution. Benjamin Engeli is an accomplished Swiss pianist, and he plays his part with much expertise. The biggest surprise was Kamilla Schatz and her violin. Together with Fabio di Càsola, clarinet, Pi-Chin Chien, cello and, of course, Benjamin Engeli, piano, she is member of the Zurich Ensemble. Playing in a chamber group is one thing, being a soloist is quite something different. I took ample time to listen to her in these three familiar sonatas and the lesser known variations WoO 40. It gave me many moments of sheer pleasure.

Starting with the variations, I haven’t heard anyone playing it better. Not even this wonderful Austrian violinist Thomas Albertus Irnberger (played as a sort of encore in his set of complete Beethoven violin sonatas Beethoven: 10 Violin Sonatas - Irnberger / Korstick). Schatz’s bowing is more energetic and her precision ‘on the dot’; displaying an almost unequaled feeling for its youthful character, lending the music, with Engeli’s ideal support, a rare kind of sparkle.

For the sonatas the competition is overwhelming. Who hasn’t played and recorded them? But Kamilla doesn’t have to give much way to most of today’s fashionable ‘stars’. With an exemplary combination of vigour, elegance and zest, she rolls them out effortlessly, possibly with a twinkle in her eyes, and she does bring this disc, with a gloriously played final movement of Sonata Op. 12 No. 3, to an as uplifting end as it began, confirming that, at least in this recital, Beethoven has it, too!

Excellent playing, excellent recording, deserving all your attention. Do give it a try.

Blangy-le-Château
Normandy, France

Copyright © 2018 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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