Beethoven / ’Kreutzer’ Sonata – Putting Your System to the (Violin and Piano) Test

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven

More ’Kreutzer’ Sonata

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating this kind of recording.

Do you want a recording that is going to put your system to the test? Well this is that record! That violin is REAL. As you compare equipment or tweak your system, you will hear the sound of that violin change and it should be obvious when it gets better and when it gets worse. 

The piano is also very well recorded. If you lose some body to the piano you’re probably going in the wrong direction. But since that direction would make the violin almost unbearable sounding, I’m going to guess that would be easily recognized as a mistake. The balance between those two instruments on this recording is perfection, so if you get this record right, you’re making progress of the most important kind: toward musical naturalness. Otherwise this violin, at least on the Kreutzer Sonata, is going to tear your head off.

These are the comments for the previous version that was on the site.

The Beethoven, which takes up side one, is recorded in a fairly dry acoustic. The sound of the violin is very immediate. It’s quite a showpiece for Heifetz.

I much prefer the Bach on side two, however, which is recorded in a more natural hall acoustic. Sir Malcom Sargent conducts and Eric Freidman plays the second violin in this concerto, which is also his debut for RCA, according to the liner notes. This piece was recorded in England and to me it has the rich, sweet, glorious sound of Living Stereo at its best.