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December 24   -   My Classical Notes

Voice of the Cello

I am a great fan of the deep, warm, resonant sound of the cello. And I have admired so many compositions for this instrument, such as the Bach solo sonatas, the two giant cello concertos, the double concerto by Brahms, and of course the Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano. Now let me tell you about a new recording of these sonatas: Beethoven: Cello Sonatas Nos. 1-5 (complete) and variations As performed by Ralph Kirschbaum (cello) and Shai Wosner (piano) Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano span his entire creative life. The Op.5 sonatas date from the late 1790s and therefore are products of his early years as a virtuoso pianist and aspiring composer in Vienna, where he had settled after leaving his native Bonn. The 3rd sonata Op.69 dates from the composer’s ‘middle period’, and is contemporary with the 4th and 5th Symphonies and the Razumovsky String Quartets. It is one of his greatest chamber compositions, a work of great beauty, full of surprises and seemingly limitless inventiveness. The two sonatas of Op102 were composed at the beginning of Beethoven’s visionary ‘late period’ and rub shoulders with the last violin sonata, the piano sonatas Nos.27, 28 and 29 ’Hammerklavier’. Beethoven’s later fascination with the baroque fugue surfaces not only at the end of the ‘Hammerklavier’ but also in the finale of the 5th sonata, reaching its apex in the Grosse Fugue’ Op.133 a few years later. The Guardian wrote just a few days ago: “Wosner keeps the piano line crisp and buoyant; Kirshbaum spins long, broad phrases that look convincingly into the far distance. Together they make Beethoven’s huge structures work, but the details can be striking too.” Here are Shia Wosner and Ralph Kirshbaum playing Beethoven:


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