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Album review: Duo Concertante creates beautiful box of Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano

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Canadian violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves, a husband and wife who perform as Duo Concertante, have recorded beautiful interpretations of all 10 sonatas for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven for the Marquis Classics label.

The two Newfoundland-based teachers impress right from the first track of this three-CD box, which features the E-flat Major Sonata Op. 12 No. 3.

Marquis-DuoConcertante-SelectedThey have organized the pieces so that each disc is an all-Beethoven programme in and of itself, with CD2 collecting two of the most popular of the pieces: the “Spring” (Op. 24) and “Kreutzer” (Op. 47) Sonatas.

Dahn has impeccable control over her bow. Her playing is modern but never heavy-handed, clearly influenced by some of the livelier bowing techniques promoted by historically informed soloists.

Steeves is the ideal partner in these pieces, matching Dahn nuance for nuance in phrasing, dynamics and rhythm. It may seem self-evident to do this, but the degree to which two artists play as one is not something we can take for granted.

As the CD booklet points out, these 10 sonatas are a musical landmark not just for their expressive power, but because they represent the first point at which a composer treats both instruments as equals. There is no accompanist here, just two collaborators. How fitting that they be performed by life partners.

The recording made at the Glenn Gould Studio last year is so good right down to the tiniest of details that it deserves to be called a reference in the contemporary performance of these 10 great pieces.

For more on this album, click here.

You can hear Steeves and Dahn in action tonight at Gallery 345. Details here.

John Terauds

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