Beethoven: Cello Sonatas (complete); Horn Sonata in F, Op. 17

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Decca Double Decca
WORKS: Cello Sonatas (complete); Horn Sonata in F, Op. 17
PERFORMER: Lynn Harrell (cello), Barry Tuckwell (horn), Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 466 733-2 ADD/DDD Reissue (1975, 1987)
Notwithstanding Barry Tuckwell’s thrilling account of Beethoven’s Horn Sonata, it’s worth remembering that its cello version forms a useful addendum to Beethoven’s bespoke sonatas for the instrument. Though it figured widely in Casals’s repertoire, it’s a pity that most modern cellists, Lynn Harrell included, pass over this transcription.

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Not that its inclusion here would have saved the day. Harrell wrestles feverishly with this music, showing cavalier disdain for historical convention and overlaying every phrase with a high-energy, febrile vibrato that’s quite at odds with Beethoven’s sound-world. Ashkenazy is much the more impressive collaborator, and while this account of the big A major Sonata, Op. 69, goes well enough, I wouldn’t choose to live with these performances. Nothing here displaces my admiration for DG’s reissued cycle from Fournier and Kempff, taped in 1965 and still largely unsurpassed. The digitised transfers are excellent, and DG’s two-disc set also includes the three variation works. Michael Jameson