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28 May 2020

Beethoven! – Frank Peter Zimmermann

von Anne Payot-Le Nabour

Praised for «the clarity of his interpretation, the purity of his playing, the finesse of his tone and the light touch of his bow» (Concertclassic), the German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann returns this autumn to the Philharmonie, where he is a regular and welcome guest. Beethoven’s 250th anniversary has inspired him to interpret all of the composer’s Sonatas for Violin and Piano with the pianist Martin Helmchen on two evenings: ten true duets, in which the two instruments meet as equal partners. Beethoven has indeed spared the performers no technical challenge.

The works hail from his two early creative phases, when he was not yet attempting to explode classical form. However, they offer an impressive testament to the emancipation of the piano in the early 19th century. While the first three sonatas, which Beethoven dedicated to his teacher Salieri, and the fifth, the «Spring Sonata», are still beholden to the tradition of Mozart, others presumably irritated contemporary audiences considerably, such as the ninth, the «Kreutzer Sonata», which its dedicatee, the French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, considered «unintelligible». Some of these works were even accused of spreading «musical terror».

Nothing of the kind is to be expected when an exceptional violinist meets a sensitive pianist, «illuminating [the works] from within in such a way that instrumental playing becomes thought expressed in music» (ResMusica), and when a world-class duo performs a monument of the repertoire.


Cover photo: Harald Hoffmann