James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong – Beethoven: Violin Sonatas 6 & 9 ‘Kreutzer’


Time for a motherfucking Beethoven sonata! Kreutzer!

This piece, in any form, is pretty dope. It’s performed by piano and violin. And, like most classical music, there are tons of fucking interpretations of it. People from all over the classical scene (especially violinists) argue, rant, and rave on who does it best. Reason why? Cause it’s a fucking hard piece to play and violinists may be some of the pettiest people on earth (“What? You don’t want to practice till the flesh is stripped from thy fingers? Go play viola, bitch.”). The name itself (Kruetzer! [Seriously, who doesn’t want to yell this word like a gladiator?]) is named after Rodolphe Kruetzer, a bomb ass violinist back when Beethoven first wrote this. It’s known for being crazy demanding, its odd length, and how emo it is. Emo? Ya, I said emo. The first part is angrier than a buck-toothed redneck full of deer piss and without dinner, the second part is chill as fuck, and the third sounds like someone drank too much happy juice. If it were a person, they’d hit the dance floor one second and cry into the corner the next. 

Besides the difficulty of the piece, another reason this sonata is popular is because Tolstoy titled a novella by the same name. Ya, that Tolstoy. The “War and Peace” guy. Plot of the novella goes something like this (spoilers): Some crazy sexist Christian dude goes all nut wild against fucking and condoms and shit. He then straight murders his wife cause he thinks she cheated on him. In the end, the dude feels pretty proud for ghosting his wife. The book was banned, for obvious reasons, for many years and gained Tolstoy the reputation of being a bad lay (which, he probably was). Nothing like a famous book about fucking and murder that helps get a classical sonata some legs. Ain’t classical music so sophisticated?

Interpretations of this piece from violinists like Miron Polyakin (expressive as a baby playing peekaboo), or from Anne-Sophie Mutter (personal as fuck) are really good. Honestly? I like them all in different ways. But this perked my ear instantly cause of the partnership between the piano and violin. It just got to me. These guys have played together a lot. And it sounds like this is the way it’s supposed to be played. James Ehnes somehow doesn’t have an over-inflated ego despite being crazy talented and a violinist. Personally? I blame it on his Canadianism (Sorry. So, sorry. No, don’t worry. It’s my fault. I’ll just play my solo later.)

This normally 40 minute sonata clocks in at over an hour. It’s not about speed. It’s about clarity. My favourite part is that you can tell these guys are having fun doing what they do. Usually this piece is played to show the golden cock on the violinist but this version takes a step back and lets the piece speak for itself. It’s really a wonderful piece and cheers up any room where it’s played. If there’s any point you want to pick up a book and feel super smart, throw this shit on, sip on a glass of wine, and feel better that you know some pretty bizarre history about it.

Alright, one last time. Kreutzer!



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