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Album review: Duo Concertante creates beautiful box of Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano

By John Terauds on April 22, 2013

concertante

Canadian violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves, a husband and wife who perform as Duo Concertante, have recorded beautiful interpretations of all 10 sonatas for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven for the Marquis Classics label.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

The two Newfoundland-based teachers impress right from the first track of this three-CD box, which features the E-flat Major Sonata Op. 12 No. 3.

Marquis-DuoConcertante-SelectedThey have organized the pieces so that each disc is an all-Beethoven programme in and of itself, with CD2 collecting two of the most popular of the pieces: the “Spring” (Op. 24) and “Kreutzer” (Op. 47) Sonatas.

Dahn has impeccable control over her bow. Her playing is modern but never heavy-handed, clearly influenced by some of the livelier bowing techniques promoted by historically informed soloists.

Steeves is the ideal partner in these pieces, matching Dahn nuance for nuance in phrasing, dynamics and rhythm. It may seem self-evident to do this, but the degree to which two artists play as one is not something we can take for granted.

As the CD booklet points out, these 10 sonatas are a musical landmark not just for their expressive power, but because they represent the first point at which a composer treats both instruments as equals. There is no accompanist here, just two collaborators. How fitting that they be performed by life partners.

The recording made at the Glenn Gould Studio last year is so good right down to the tiniest of details that it deserves to be called a reference in the contemporary performance of these 10 great pieces.

For more on this album, click here.

You can hear Steeves and Dahn in action tonight at Gallery 345. Details here.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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