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Classical Album of the Week: The Coziest Beethoven with Andrew Wan and Charles Richard-Hamelin

Pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin and violinist Andrew Wan

November 26, 2018. As winter approaches, what you may want on cold days and nights is something cozy, beautiful and satisfying. Look no further, because Beethoven — yes, cozy Beethoven — is here! 

Just out on the Analekta label, Beethoven’s Opus 30 Sonatas, as rendered by violinist Andrew Wan and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, show Beethoven at his most intimate and charming. This is a new recording you’ll want to cozy up to, and, if you’re like us, listen to again and again.


Beethoven wrote his three Sonatas for Piano and Violin, Opus 30, in 1802. This was the year that, despite outward success, his inner despair over his increasing deafness threatened to mentally unhinge him. His doctor prescribed a summer respite in the countryside, at Heiligenstadt, outside Vienna. Here he wrote the famous Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter he addressed to his brothers but never sent, in which he said that the only thing that was preventing him from committing suicide was his art, his need to express all that he had inside him, through music.

Here, at Heiligenstadt, he penned his Symphony No. 2, as well as these Opus 30 sonatas and other works. He returned to Vienna emotionally stronger. Scholars note that from this point forward, Beethoven left behind his earlier, more classical style, and entered into his middle, or heroic, compositional period.

The three sonatas of Opus 30 receive marvelous treatment from Wan and Hamelin. Wan is concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony, and his recordings of the Saint Saëns Violin Concertos with that ensemble are highly regarded. In this chamber music repertoire, his tone is warm and burnished, his intonation always on the mark. He is equally matched in delicate sensibility, fleet virtuosity, and elegant phrasing, in Quebecois pianist Hamelin. Together, the violin and piano sing. Wan and Hamelin bring out the lyricism of Sonata No. 6 in A major, Opus 30, No. 1, the tempestuousness of Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Opus 30, No. 2, and every touch of humor and earthiness in Sonata No. 8 in G major, Opus 30, No. 3.


Andrew Wan and Charles Richard-Hamelin plan to record Beethoven’s complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin. Their first installment will warm your soul as you wait with anticipation for Volume 2.

Debra's last day on the air at WRTI was September 21st, 2021. She's now the radio host for The Metropolitan Opera. Read more here.