Britten on Record: Haydn: Sonata for piano and violin in G major

Britten on Record: Haydn: Sonata for piano and violin in G major (BBC Legends)

Yehudi Menuhin (violin), Benjamin Britten (piano)

Live recording: Aldeburgh Church, Aldeburgh, 27 June 1959

1 Andante
2 Allegro

Audio

Clips from the performance can be heard at the All Music website.

Background and Critical Reception

Haydn is not the first composer that comes to mind in consideration of the classical violin sonata – but Yehudi Menuhin and Benjamin Britten practically introduced him to that category by way of a transcription the composer made of one of his piano trios, in G major (Hob.XV:32).

In much of his piano trio writing Haydn would double the piano left hand with the cello line, so removing the cello from the equation did not make as dramatic a change as might be expected in this instance. Britten and Menuhin chose this to begin their 1959 Aldeburgh Festival recital on June 27 in Aldeburgh Church.

Thoughts

The easy, amiable nature of the first movement makes this piece an ideal start for a concert, from which point it broadens out into a theme and some variations – one of Britten’s favourite formats of composition. There follows an engaging Allegro, both performers giving a bright account of their respective parts.

The sound is not the greatest – but it would seem this is due to the condition of the original tapes rather than the remastering process.

Spotify

The performance can be heard on Spotify, as part of a different album release, by clicking here.

Also recorded in 1959: Puccini – La bohème (Renata Tebaldi (Mimi), Carlo Bergonzi (Rodolfo), Saint Cecilia Academy Orchestra / Tullio Serafin) (Decca)

Next up: Debussy: Sonata for violin and piano in G minor

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