Richard Tognetti and Erin Helyard this week release a landmark recording of violin sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, on the ABC Classic label.
Pianist Erin Helyard’s intimate knowledge of the soundworld of Classical Vienna is paired with the eloquence of violinist Richard Tognetti creating a double album of chamber music by two of Australia’s most exciting performers, which includes Beethoven’s epic ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata.
The history of the violin sonata, says Helyard, is rooted in the mating rituals of the 18th-century middle class. Music was one of the few occasions where the two sexes were allowed to intermingle, so the violin sonata offered a rare opportunity for men and women to spend time together.
Both Mozart and Beethoven embraced the expressive potential of the violin sonata, drawing new lyrical and dramatic effects from both instruments. The music also reflects the changing roles of women and men, as the 18th century gave way to the 19th. No longer was the violin part a mere pretext for courtship; no longer was music considered a core accomplishment for ladies and a casual hobby for dilettante gentlemen. In these sonatas, we hear the piano and violin renegotiating their roles. With Mozart they arrive on a more equal footing, but with Beethoven the violin is even more dominant.
The highly-charged atmosphere, and the dynamic tension both in the music and the context of the era, is strikingly represented by the album’s artwork – a photograph by Richard Tognetti, depicting a uniquely Australian scene of a beach town just before a thunderstorm. Two figures walk towards the gathering storm, as rain begins to fall on the bitumen and the weatherboard houses. Though a world away from 18th-century Vienna, this image seems to reflect that city’s musical landscape at the time – with the dark, glowering, dramatic cloud of Beethoven looming, poised to change everything.
Richard Tognetti is well known to audiences across Australia and around the world as the leader and Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. His ABC Classic recordings of Bach’s violin works – the solo sonatas and partitas, the sonatas for violin and keyboard, and the violin concertos – won the Best Classical ARIA Award for three years running, and he continues to win international praise for his thrilling interpretations of the iconic works of the Classical masters.
Erin Helyard, recently acclaimed by Limelight magazine as ‘Australia’s most engaging soloist’, is a virtuosic and expressive interpreter of the harpsichord and fortepiano, and an internationally respected scholar, passionate about promoting discourse between musicology and performance. As Artistic Director and co-founder of Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, he has forged new standards of excellence in historically informed performance in Australia. For this recording Erin performs on an exceptional replica of a 1790s piano by Anton Walter – whose instruments were owned and played by both Mozart and Beethoven.
The tracks: CD1 -WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART 1756–1791: Violin Sonata in E minor, KV304/ JOSEPHINE AUERNHAMMER 1758–1820: Six Variations on the Aria ‘Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja’/ WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Violin Sonata in B-flat major, KV454/ AUGUST EBERHARD MÜLLER 1767–1817: Seven Variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’, Op. 7 No. 1/ WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Violin Sonata in A major, KV526
CD2- LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN 1770–1827: Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 30 No. 3/ Violin Sonata Op. 47 ‘Kreutzer’
2CD + Digital album | Available 18 October 2019 | ABC 481 8192