Here's your disc of the week for March 17, 2013. Each week CBC Radio 2's In Concert looks at new classical music releases and selects one recording that you'll want to know about.
Artist: Duo Concertante: Nancy Dahn, violin, and Timothy Steeves, piano.
Repertoire: Ludwig van Beethoven: complete violin sonatas.
Label: Marquis Classics.
Violinist Dahn and pianist Steeves share a home and, more often than not, the practice studio. Dahn, from Lunenberg, N.S., and Steeves, who grew up in Saskatoon, met when they both joined the faculty at Memorial University in the mid-1990s.
Partners in life and music for 15 years, they're one of this country's leading chamber ensembles, perhaps best known for their passionate interest in contemporary music. Duo Concertante won a 2010 Juno Award for their recording of a work they commissioned from one of Canada's most admired contemporary composers, R. Murray Schafer. In fact two of their five previous albums have focused exclusively on new Canadian repertoire, and later this spring they'll premiere new works by Winnipeg's Vincent Ho and Vancouver's Jocelyn Morlock.
So, their latest release comes as a bit of a surprise. It's a two-CD set devoted to the complete cycle of 10 sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven.
Not so fast, says Dahn. "We actually took our name, Duo Concertante, from the inscription over Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, which was the very first piece we played together. The inscription reads "in stile molto concertante," with the implication being that the performers are two equal and dynamic voices, sometimes together and sometimes opposing each other, and that's what we thought we wanted to become as a duo.
"This cycle of Beethoven sonatas has become incredibly important in terms of who we are as performers. We play a Beethoven sonata with almost every concert we give. There is a perfect Beethoven sonata for every program because there's such a huge range within the set."
It's obvious that Dahn and Steeves have lived with these sonatas for years; the performances are thoughtful, nuanced and still refreshingly alive.
Says Steeves: "There are all kinds of wonderful recordings of these Beethoven sonatas by ad hoc combinations of great violinists and pianists, but not many by musicians who play together almost every day. We hope the permanence and constancy of these Beethoven sonatas in our daily lives and the great joy that they bring to us are tangible in these recordings."
Listen Beethoven: Sonata in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1
I. Allegro, II. Adagio molto espressivo, III. Allegretto con variazioni
Disc of the week: Barbara Hannigan sings Britten
Vancouver Winter Chamber Music Festival 2012 - Night 1
Vancouver Winter Chamber Music Festival 2012 - Night 2
on Mar 17, 2013