This winning duo stands out for its recreative flair

The Strad Recommends: Viktoria Mullova: Beethoven


The Strad Issue: June 2024

Description: This winning duo stands out for its recreative flair

Musicians: Viktoria Mullova (violin) Alasdair Beatson (fortepiano)

Works: Beethoven: Violin Sonatas: no.1 in D major op.12 no.1, no.6 in A major op.30 no.1, no.8 in G major op.30 no.3

Catalogue number: SIGNUM SIGCD794

As in their previous album (reviewed in June 2021), Viktoria Mullova and Alasdair Beatson perform with a gut-strung 1750 Giovanni Guadagnini violin and reproduction Classical bow and a copy of an 1805 Walter fortepiano by Paul McNulty. Reading from Clive Brown’s thorough 2020–21 Bärenreiter edition, they respond faithfully to Beethoven’s detailed performance indications and reveal refreshing new insights regarding matters of phrasing, articulation and expression.

Their tempos for the slow movements are suitably flowing and their fast movements are spry and buoyant, but never rushed. Their dynamic range is especially striking, particularly in the first movement of op.30 no.3 and the dramatic minore variation of op.12 no.1’s Andante; they are also well attuned to Beethoven’s humorous touches in op.30 no.1’s variations and op.30 no.3’s high-spirited finale. The clarity and dexterity of Beatson’s passagework in the outer movements of op.12 no.1 and in op.30 no.1’s variations are compelling and Mullova’s flexible bowing style elicits a wide spectrum of timbres, enhanced by subtle vibrato. Extempore ornamentation is added as appropriate, including a pleasing violin lead-in during the slow movement of op.30 no.1 and imaginative fortepiano embellishment in some of the repeats of op.12 no.1’s variation movement.

These persuasive, finely balanced performances are clearly captured in close, warm sound.