Music of Spring

Crocus longiflorus5

Let’s celebrate the arrival of spring with a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Opus 24. Sometime after this music was published in 1801 it became know as the “Spring” sonata. Can you hear anything “springy” in the music?

As you listen, pay attention to the sense of dialogue between the violin and piano. What kind of a conversation are they having? Listen to the musical cat and mouse game that takes place in the Scherzo. The word “scherzo” translates as “joke.” I think you’ll hear the humor in this movement. A Rondo is a musical form in which a main theme keeps recurring, interspersed with short musical “adventures” into new territory.

This performance is by German violinist Anne Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis:

  1. Allegro -begins at 1:00
  2. Adagio molto espressivo –begins at 11:45
  3. Scherzo: Allegro molto -begins at 18:04
  4. Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo –begins at 19:29

If you would like to hear a slightly different interpretation, listen to these recordings by Szeryng and Rubinstein, Oistrakh and Milstein. Is there one performance that stands out for you? If so, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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3 Responses to Music of Spring

  1. Anonymous April 1, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Just great. Live and immediate. A wide palette of tonal shading and phrasing that breathes. A conversation with each player getting appropriate importance – neither is featured. Its clear these two worked very hard to polish this gem. Thanks very much Timothy.

  2. Peter Charles April 3, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    Very accomplished performers. I note Ms Mutter has a high bowing wrist and rather spread fingers. Good sound production even so. I do find as I often do that her interpretation is a little extreme with some tempo/rythmic distortions – some might call them affectations, particularly in the first and last movements. But of course she is free to make her own unique interpretations.

    • Timothy Judd April 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      Excellent points, Peter. You hit on something I’ve noticed when comparing the style of playing today to the recordings of the past. Many older performances, such as the ones I linked to at the bottom seem more straight forward and less affected. There is more of a sense of the big picture. Mutter does some beautiful things with tone color and tempo, but her performance, like that of other violinists today is coming from a different place. Style seems to be shaped by the world we live in.

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