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Andrew Wan and Charles Richard-Hamelin do a terrific job of discerning Beethoven on new VS release / STAGEANDCINEMA

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Beethoven composed his Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Op. 30 in 1801-02, completing most of the work between March and May of 1802. Dedicated to Czar Alexander I of Russia, the three sonatas - A major, C minor and G major - were developed during a traumatic period in Beethoven's life when he was forced to admit to himself that he was losing his hearing (just four months after composing the sonatas, Beethoven disclosed in a letter that he was seriously considering suicide). Yet there's a good deal of optimism and Haydenesque humor scattered throughout, possibly because the Sonatas were written while the composer had moved to a village in the Vienna Woods as a possible curative for his increasing tinnitus.

Since Beethoven was dealing with feelings of both self-pity and hopefulness, the first two - although neighbors - are worlds apart in spirit. In Op. 30 No. 1 the energy is controlled: it may be Classicism rejuvenated and extended, but it's still fundamentally Classical - almost methodical but with some striking features. No. 2 is the dog that wants out of the cage, one moment Romantic, the next discharging ferocious wit. On their new album - the first of three that will contain all ten of Beethoven's complete Violin Sonatas – Andrew Wan (violin) and Charles Richard-Hamelin (piano) do a terrific job of discerning the two styles.

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