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Violin Sonata No 8 in G major, Op 30 No 3

composer

 
In April 1802, on doctor’s orders, Beethoven moved to the village of Heiligenstadt just outside Vienna, where it was hoped that the rural peace would allow his hearing to recover. It very obviously didn’t work: he poured out his despair in an anguished letter to his brothers, known today as the Heiligenstadt Testament:

What a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me to despair; much more of that and I would have ended my life—it was only my art that held me back.

And then, within a matter of weeks, he’d written his three violin sonatas Op 30, concluding with this one: a work described by the great violinist Josep Szigeti as a work of 'conflictless perfection'. What could be more effortlessly joyful than the exuberant, whirling flourish that opens the first Allegro assai, or more sunny than the bustling sonata-form movement that follows? Or more tenderly nostalgic than the long, searching melody that opens the second movement, the violin spinning its emotions out over the stately tread of the piano’s Tempo di menuetto (itself a throwback to a gentler age)?

As for the finale, it’s as if (once again) Beethoven is channelling the rustic high-spirits of his former master Haydn, that most generous of all composers. There’s roughness, and some deliciously spicy discords—but is it possible that a man who had weeks earlier been contemplating suicide could now simply stick his tongue out and laugh? It certainly sounds that way. 'I would have ended my life', Beethoven had written in the Testament; 'it was only my art that held me back.' Few works remind us more bracingly that when Beethoven said that he lived for music, he meant it.

from notes by Richard Bratby © 2020

Recordings

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos 1, 5 & 8
Studio Master: SIGCD618Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

Movement 1: Allegro assai
Movement 2: Tempo di menuetto, ma molto moderato e grazioso
Movement 3: Allegro vivace

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD618 track 10

Allegro vivace
Artists
ISRC
GB-LLH-20-61810
Duration
3'32
Recording date
11 September 2019
Recording venue
Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Nicholas Parker
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch & George Collins
Hyperion usage
  1. Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos 1, 5 & 8 (SIGCD618)
    Disc 1 Track 10
    Release date: June 2020
    Download only
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