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Festival music review

Frank Peter Zimmermann/Christian Zacharias

Frank Peter Zimmermann/Christian Zacharias

Queen's Hall

Michael Tumelty

THE words "Beethoven" and "neglected" are not exactly what you'd call synonymous. Yet for all the universal fame of so much of Beethoven's music, there are still pockets of his repertoire that need more frequent exposure for their true value and originality to be more widely appreciated.

His 10 Violin Sonatas come into that category. We're quite lucky in that we heard a decent selection back in June from Catherine Manson and Alasdair Beatson in the Cottier Chamber Project. And yesterday morning at the Queen's Hall it was world-class stuff from the great violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann and pianist Christian Zacharias, who addressed the issue by giving over their morning recital to performances of the three opus 12 Violin Sonatas and that evergreen masterpiece, the Spring Sonata, whose music just sang and danced in the hands of these two masters.

And the wonderful performances of all four sonatas seemed also to address another issue that plagues perceptions of Beethoven at the end of his 20s: the heritage and influence of Mozart. Folk do this with the sonatas, and also his six opus 18 String Quartets. Yesterday, as I listened to these great musicians bring out all of Beethoven's characteristics - from the dynamic shocks, the abrupt accents, the breathtaking key changes, the startlingly new explorations of texture and register, the streaming lyricism of The Spring, the sudden fierce pounding of the bass notes in opus 12 no 3, to the witty, rollicking Rondo at the end - I couldn't sense any shade of Mozart; all I heard was pure Beethoven.

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