Andrew Wan was named concertmaster of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in 2008. As soloist, he has performed worldwide under conductors such as Vengerov, Petrenko, Labadie, Rizzi, Oundjian, [...]
They spoke about it
In this second volume of the complete sonatas for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), Andrew Wan and Charles Richard- Hamelin present the three sonatas of opus 12 and Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24, undoubtedly one of Beethoven’s most famous chamber works.
Written in 1797 and 1798, the three sonatas of opus 12 were published in 1799. They are dedicated to Antonio Salieri, with whom Beethoven studied in Vienna at the turn of the 19th century. Rather conventional from a formal standpoint, these first three of Beethoven’s works for violin and piano are nevertheless imaginatively brilliant and innovative in their instrumental textures. While sonatas for violin and piano written earlier in the Classical period tended to feature the keyboard (hence their descriptions as “sonatas for piano and violin” and not “sonatas for violin and piano”), Beethoven’s opus 12 sonatas place the two instruments on equal footing. All three works radiate vitality and joie de vivre–indeed, apart from the middle movement of Sonata No. 2 in A Major, every movement is written in the major mode. While Sonata No. 1 in D Major exudes a youthful enthusiasm, the aforementioned A-major sonata is characterized by wit, with the elusive, bouncy opening theme of the first movement more rhetorical than melodic. More substantial than the other two, Sonata No. 3 in E-flat Major is the most virtuosic of the three sonatas, featuring almost concerto-like instrumental writing. Its first movement foreshadows several themes that Beethoven would reuse in his Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37.
Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24, often referred to as the “Spring Sonata” (Frühlingssonate), was composed in 1800 and 1801 during an especially productive period for Beethoven. Published in 1801 and dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries, who likely commissioned it, the work did not gain the “Spring Sonata” moniker until over a century later. While the pastoral theme opening the first movement may have inspired an association with spring, this “Allegro con spirito” nevertheless features several contrasting and dramatic episodes. The meditative second movement gives us a glimpse of Beethoven’s talents as an improvisor, with an ever more ornamented melody unfolding over an accompaniment with a very slow harmonic rhythm. The amusing and very brief “Scherzo” (the shortest movement of all of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano) makes a joke of having the violin lag behind the piano. The concluding “Rondo” develops and transforms the main theme in an increasingly ingenious and original fashion with each iteration, ultimately rekindling the first movement’s pastoral character.
© Florence Brassard
English Translation: Peter Christensen