David Breitman- Pianos, and Elizabeth Wallfisch- Violins            

We simply love these works with a passion. you can't help falling in love with the music, being moved by its tenderness and whole-hearted openness. They are a window into Beethoven... 


 

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

THE TEN SONATAS FOR PIANO AND VIOLIN  ON PERIOD INSTRUMENTS 

DAVID BREITMAN, FORTEPIANO 
ELIZABETH WALLFISCH, VIOLIN
THE BEETHOVEN PIANO AND VIOLIN SONATAS…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

PASSION

The ten sonatas for violin and piano form a wonderful group. The first three, published in 1798 as op. 12, are brilliant examples of Beethoven's first maturity. The next six show the full range of the composer's middle period, from the dramatic world of the Fifth Symphony (C minor sonata, op 30 no 2 and the Kreutzer, opus 47), to the sunny, humorous one of the Pastoral (Spring sonata, A major op. 30 no. 3). And the last Sonata op. 96, is an example of Beethoven's late style, with its concentrated expression and original forms-not as radical as the late quartets, but filled with the same radiance. A beauty unparalleled!

 

 



…ON HISTORICAL INSTRUMENTS

 

It is a rare treat to hear these pieces on historical instruments. There are no currently available recordings of the set, and there are serious logistical obstacles to performing them in concert: they require top•notch fortepianos, and a real chamber•music performance space. Perhaps most difficult of all is to find the right 
performers! There are still many more harpsichordists than fortepiano players, and, among "period" performers on the violin, most specialize in the Baroque period; few venture beyond Mozart. 
 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Wallfisch and David Breitman have been exploring the classical repertoire together since 2003, performing sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, as well as trios by Beethoven, Schubert and Mendelssohn with cellist Jaap ter Linden. The special rapport that they share, as well as their love for this literature has inspired them to seek out performance opportunities throughout the world, culminating in a plan to record the complete set. 

Historical instruments, and the historical playing techniques that go with them, shed new light on these masterpieces. Beethoven called them "Sonatas for Piano with Violin," not, as they can seem in a conventional violin recital, violin solos with piano accompaniment.

Paradoxically, the much larger sound of the modern piano tends to recede behind the violin, while the smaller but brighter sound of the fortepiano encourages a more equal partnership. The violin-especially when vibrato is used sparingly-can easily weave in and out of the texture, shifting quickly between a soloistic and accompanimental role. 


The Piano, as it developed from opus 12, to opus 96

Another aspect of the cycle is the way the pieces track the evolution of the piano during Beethoven's lifetime. The three sonatas op. 12 take perfect advantage of the light brilliance of the Stein pianos he knew from his youth in Bonn and continued to play in his early years in Vienna. In the subsequent pieces, one senses

Beethoven exploring the limits of the five•octave piano, just as builders such as Walter and Streicher were expanding the compass and dynamic range of their instruments. The last sonata, op. 96, is from Beethoven's last creative period and makes use of the extended range available at that time.

 

 
Programmes
PROGRAM 1  

 Sonata no. 1 in D major, op. 12, no. 1 

Sonata no. 8 in G major, op. 30, no. 3 

** 
Sonata no. 9 in A major, op. 47 ("Kreutzer") 
 

PROGRAM 2

Sonata no. 2 in A major, op. 12, no. 2

Sonata no. 3 in E•flat major, op. 12, no. 3 
** 
Sonata no. 6 in A major, op. 30, no. 1 

Sonata no. 7 in C minor, op. 30. no. 2 

 

PROGRAM 3 

Sonata no. 4 in A minor, op. 23 

Sonata no. 5 in F major, op. 24 ("Spring") 

** 
Sonata no. 10 in G major, op. 96 
(Other arrangements of the sonatas are possible with, for example, one shorter 
program suitable for a noontime concert.) 
 

 


Elizabeth Wallfisch, Violin

David Breitman, Fortepiano 

Let me introduce you to David:

 

DAVID BREITMAN, FORTEPIANO 

David Breitman, Fortepiano
David Breitman is equally at home with the fortepiano and the modern piano, and in 
the roles of soloist and collaborator. The 2008-09 season included performances of 
Beethoven's Fourth Concerto on both historical (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) and modern pianos (Carmel, California); as well as sonatas and trios at Hatchlands (Surrey, UK), home of the renowned Cobbe Collection of historical instruments. His collaboration with baritone Sanford Sylvan spans more than thirty years, with several hundred recitals and four CD's, ranging from Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, to the premiere recording of The Glass Hammer, a major song cycle by the Cuban•American composer Jorge Martin. Their other recordings, "Beloved that Pilgrimage" (three 20th century song cycles), and an all Fauré disc were both nominated for Grammy awards. In a collaboration of a different sort, Breitman is one of seven fortepianists who share a complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle.

The team has presented the series in New York City, Florence, and Palermo and the 10 CD set on CLAVES has been extraordinarily well received.

Another fruitful partnership has been with Jean François Rivest; their critically acclaimed 4 disc Mozart violin sonata cycle is available on the Analekta label. Now that Mr. Rivest has devoted himself full-time to conducting, David is delighted to continue his exploration of the violin/piano repertoire with Elizabeth. 

A Montreal native, Mr. Breitman now teaches at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, where he directs the Historical Performance program. While on sabbatical in 2009-2010, he co-taught a graduate seminar at l'Université de Montréal exploring the use of historical keyboard instruments as a research tool for advanced pianists, and served as a visiting lecturer in Performance Practice at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.