In a year that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons – the pandemic, climate catastrophes and social and political polarisation – one small consolation has been the stream of exceptional albums celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. And not least among them is an outstanding surveyof the first four violin sonatas by German duo Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen, which makes the mouth water at the prospect of the release of the remaining six works.

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This is a new and exciting collaboration with a strong chemistry, Helmchen’s sensitive playing complementing Zimmermann’s refined and nuanced style. A point of interest is the instruments they play, but more of that later. The middle movement of the Op....