by Daniel Hathaway
Credit Opus 47 for inspiring the complete cycle of Beethoven’s violin sonatas that James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong are touring this season to celebrate the composer’s 250th birthday.
As the Canadian-born violinist told us in a phone conversation last fall, he and his piano colleague once booked a studio in England to record a commissioned piece, but the work wasn’t ready yet. “The space, the recording engineer, and the producer were all on hold and we were faced with a whole day of dead time. What could we do to turn this into a useful day?”
Having performed Beethoven’s Ninth Sonata (the “Kreutzer”) quite frequently around that time, Ehnes proposed using that day to record it. “It’s never a bad idea to have a recording of the ‘Kreutzer,’ and we could figure out what to do with it later.”
What they did with it later was to record Beethoven’s Sixth Sonata and release the two sonatas on the same disc. “Some publications assumed that this was the start of a cycle,” Ehnes said, and that prediction came true when the violinist was looking for a way to mark the big anniversary of the composer’s birth in 2020. [Read more…]