American Record Guide

Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Aaron Short have assembled an interesting program mostly of very rarely heard works. The sonata is, of course, standard repertoire and has been recorded by nearly every major violinist since Fritz Kreisler and Szymon Goldberg; and, while Skaerved and Shorr don’t have big-time soloist pizzazz, they know their way around classical scores better than most big-time soloists, and this is a very satisfying, intelligent interpretation of that score. The other two works by Beethoven are without opus numbers. The Rondeau and Variations were probably written before Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna. The Rondeau was popularized by Fritz Kreisler in an abbreviated version he titled Rondino. The Variations are based on the famous aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

The most unusual piece here is the one by Beethoven’s famous patron Archduke Rudolph Esterhazy. The minuet that is the basis for his variations was composed by Prince Louis Ferdinand, nephew of Frederick the Great. The variations are surprising for their length and quality, having nothing dilettantish about them. This could be very satisfying for someone seeking something classical but off the beaten path. Excellent, well-researched booklet notes by Skaerved, who plays the “Habeneck” Stradivarius of 1734 here.

—Joseph Magil