The violin sonata around 1900 (2016)

Strauss, Rota, Respighi

Isabelle van Keulen, Ronald Brautigam

At the turn of the 19th to the 20th century the violin sonata experienced a considerable renaissance. A fundamentally conservative genre, it suddenly sparkled with vitality. Mozart developed its classical formula: violin and piano are two equal partners in dialogue with neither the piano being reduced to a mere accompanist nor the violin being reduced to mere colouring of the melody voice; a three-movement-pattern; the first movement being based on the so called sonata form with two themes of clearcut atmospheric contrast and their developement.

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Isabelle van Keulen

"Since her breakthrough in 1984 winning the Eurovision Young Musician of the Year, a competition that was broadcast all over Europe and watched live on television by millions, Isabelle van Keulen can now look back on many years of musical diversity. Not only is it always vital for her to approach the musical score with honesty and with an extremely consious approach to interpretation, she also strives to communicate with her audiences and musical partners, allowing her to perform in an inspirational, lively and enthusiastic manner. 

Her versatility lies in the fact that she not only plays the violin, but as well viola with the same energy, performing chamber music in any thinkable combination and directing chamber orchestra performances. Whether in the over 20 year intense collaboration with the Dutch pianist Ronald Brautigam, concerts with mezzo Christianne Stotijn, performing/directing the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, combining violin and viola in one appearance, founding a chamber music festival – from 1997 until 2006 Isabelle van Keulen was Artistic Director of the Delft Chamber Music Festival – giving masterclasses or being a soloist with orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic or NHK Tokyo. Above all, being faithful to the music is her highest priority. 

She has over the course of her career engaged works written by contemporary composers. She had many concertos written especially for her (Theo Loevendie, Erkki-Sven Tüür) and has many other 20th and 21st century works in her repertoire: Concertos by Henri Dutilleux, John Adams, Lera Auerbach, Oliver Knussen and Brett Dean. She also likes to perform less known works by Colin Matthews and Concertos by Krenek, Pettersson and Busoni. 

Isabelle van Keulen has made many recordings in the past decades, the most recent ones are an album of violin-piano sonatas by Strauss, Nino Rota and Respighi (Channel Classics) and Prokofiev Complete Works for violin and piano with Ronald Brautigam (Challenge Classics). In May 2013 a high profile album with music by Astor Piazzolla was released on Challenge Records, Tango! with the Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble (also available from Native DSD Music in Stereo and Multichannel DSD). 

Since autumn 2012 she is a professor for violin, viola and chamber music at the Luzern University of Arts." 

Ronald Brautigam

Ronald Brautigam has deservedly earned a reputation as one of Holland’s most respected musicians, remarkable not only for his virtuosity and musicality but also for the eclectic nature of his musical interests. He has received numerous awards including the Dutch Music Prize and a 2010 MIDEM Classical Award for best concerto recording for his CD of Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Parrott. 

A student of the legendary Rudolf Serkin,Ronald Brautigam performs regularly with leading orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw, London Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Rundfunk- Sinfonieorchester Berlin. 
He has performed alongside a number of distinguished conductors including Riccardo Chailly, Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, Frans Brüggen, Christopher Hogwood, Marek Janowski, Sir Roger Norrington, Marin Alsop, Ivor Bolton, Sir Simon Rattle, Ivan Fisher and Sir Mark Elder. 
Besides his performances on modern instruments Ronald Brautigam has established himself as a leading exponent of the fortepiano, working with orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tafelmusik, 18th-Century Orchestra, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the Hanover band, the Wiener Akademie, Concerto Copenhagen and l’Orchestre des Champs-Elysées.

In 1995 Ronald Brautigam began what has proved a highly successful association with the Swedish label BIS. His discography of over 60 recordings so far includes the complete works of Mozart and Haydn on fortepiano. In 2004 he released the first of his 15-CD Beethoven cycle on fortepiano. After the first six volumes the series had already become firmly established as the benchmark cycle on fortepiano. According to US magazine Fanfare ‘this could be a Beethoven piano-sonata cycle that challenges the very notion of playing this music on modern instruments, a stylistic paradigm shift.’ 

In 2009 he began what has proved a highly successful association with the Kölner Akademie and conductor Michael Alexander Willens, resulting in a series of 11 CD's with Mozart's complete piano concertos on fortepiano.

Besides his work for BIS, Ronald Brautigam has recorded piano concertos by Shostakovich, Hindemith and Frank Martin with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly for Decca, and has made several recordings with violinist Isabelle van Keulen.

Brautigam’s recordings have earned a number of awards including three Edisons, a Diapason d’Or de l’année, a ‘MIDEM Classical Award’ for best solo piano recording (2004) and in 2010 he won the prestigious MIDEM Classical Award for best concerto recording. 

In 2015 his Beethoven recordings won him an Edison Award and the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

Ronald Brautigam is Professor at the Musik-Hochschule in Basel.

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The violin sonata around 1900 (2016)

Strauss, Rota, Respighi

Isabelle van Keulen, Ronald Brautigam


The Violin Sonata around 1900” is the subtitle of Challenge Classics’ release but this is both stylistically and chronologically misleading. The dates of the Strauss (1887) and Respighi (1917) stretch the concept already to breaking-point but that of Nino Rota’s beautifully crafted little work – 1936-37 – snaps it remorselessly. The Rota, placed second on the disc, is more a sonatina given the company but its 14 lyrical minutes make for the finest contrast imaginable between the two weightier items. The Respighi is rather better known than the Rota and almost twice its size, yet shares the same sense of enjoyment in melody in an intimate setting. Unlike Rota, though, Respighi shows off his structural muscle in a work – written just after Pini di Roma – that is both true sonata as well as lyrical dialogue. Van Keulen and Brautigam are at their finest here (the Rota not really taxing them), shaping the themes equally adroitly as sonata elements as well as tunes to be relished for their own sake. Generally excellent sound as well as the imaginative programming makes this a fine addition to the catalogue.

Guy Rickards of Gramophone[read full review]

The violin sonata around 1900 (2016)

Strauss, Rota, Respighi

Isabelle van Keulen, Ronald Brautigam

Digital Converters: dCS
Producer: Bert van der Wolf
Recording Engineer: Bert van der Wolf
Recording location: Galaxy Studios, Moll, Belgium
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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CC72307: The violin sonata around 1900
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Allegro, ma non troppo
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Improvisation. Andante cantabile
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Finale. Andante - Allegro
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Allegretto cantabile con moto
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Largo sostenuto
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Allegro assai moderato
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Andante espressivo
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(Passacaglia) Allegro moderato ma energico
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