Beethoven’s oeuvre only comprises a small collection of works for cello and piano, but that the composer was an accomplished writer for this combination of instruments is evident from the fact that Jean-Louis Duport, one of Frederick II’s court cellists and one of the most revered musicians of his day, incorporated many of the techniques found in the Op.5 sonatas into his instruction manual for cello. The two works each contain only two movements, and the absence of a slow movement was probably to avoid the problem of dynamic imbalance between the instruments (which would have been accentuated in adagio passages) – something that is also the case with the Op.68 sonatas, composed in 1807. Only with the second Op.102 sonata does the composer finally replace the slow introduction, as found in No.1 and all of the above works, with a full-scale slow movement, one that precedes the massive fugal finale that was to form such an intrinsic part of Beethoven’s late-period works.
Also featured are the three delightful sets of variations for cello and piano, each modelled on a different aria from Handel’s opera Judas Maccabeus and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and each (just like the sonatas) placing the piano on an equal footing with the cello throughout. The works are an engaging addition to a collection that marks the return of Israeli/Dutch cellist Timora Rosler and Hungarian pianist Klára Würtz, whose previous Brilliant Classics release ‘Cello Rhapsody’ (9157) was released to critical acclaim, and which provides a snapshot of the composer’s stylistic development over a period of nearly 20 years.
- Filling “only” two CD’s, the complete works for cello and piano are quintessential and vintage Beethoven. The two youthful Opus 5 sonatas are written in virtuoso concerto style, with an especially glittering role for the piano (Beethoven was a tremendous pianist in his early years), the sonata Op. 69 is in the expansive, sonorous and deep-feeling tonal language of Beethoven’s Middle-Period, whereas the two Late sonatas Op. 102 are marvels of originality, experiment, “quirkiness” and humanity.
- The two musicians Timora Rosler and Klára Würtz have been playing together for more than 15 years, having won several chamber music prizes. They performed the Beethoven cycle several times in concert over the years, and their interpretation has ripened to such an extent that the time came to record it. And here it is: every note alive and vibrant, played with gusto and feeling, alternating melancholy and joy, sadness and sheer fun.
- Contains notes on the music and detailed artist biographies.
- Recorded 19–23 January 2013, Sala congressi del Parco naturalistico di Onara, Padua, Italy.