Violinist Sarah Kapustin and pianist Jeannette Koekkoek have played all ten of Beethoven’s sonatas in concert in Italy. They’ve recorded five of them and this summer they’re continuing to deepen their acquaintance with the pieces in three concerts at Indiana University’s Summer Music Festival.
George Walker asked Sarah Kapustin about the balance between the instruments. “Well, the early works are really marked for piano with violin accompaniment. This wasn’t unusual for the period. It’s was very much the practice of Mozart and even some of Brahms’ pieces are marked that way. And after all, Beethoven was a pianist. As he developed as a composer the two instruments become much more balanced. But don’t think that even in the early works that the violin is treated badly. Themes are frequently traded back and forth and the violin is always very much a part of the pieces.”
Pianist Jeannette Koekkoek had some specific comments about the keyboard parts themselves. “I’ve been working very hard to purify, to come up with the essence of just the right sound from the full sized standard Steinway. One of my producers really nailed it when he said, “You’re trying to make the instrument sound like Beethoven’s forte piano.” It’s incredibly hard on the fingers, but I think that it really is the sound that fits.
As they talked about this summer’s concerts Koekkoek said and Kapustin agreed that, “When we come back to these pieces, it’s almost as if we start all over again. There are fresh insights, new balances and approaches. It’s what happens when you seriously approach great pieces.”