Beethoven: Complete works for cello and piano

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Hanssler
PERFORMER: David Geringas (cello), Ian Fountain (piano)

Most surveys of Beethoven’s cello music normally fill two discs. David Geringas and Ian Fountain however go one better than their rivals by supplementing the requisite numbered sonatas and variations with two comparative rarities. Here we have the composer’s resourceful cello transcription of the Horn Sonata and the six-movement Duo Sonata Op. 64, based on the early E flat String Trio. Whether the latter was actually arranged by Beethoven still remains a matter of conjecture, but Geringas and Fountain seem totally committed to the work, delivering a wonderfully elegant account that emphasises the music’s Mozartian features. Both players are equally enthralling in the Horn Sonata transcription, imbuing the Rondo Finale with grace and humour.
There are some really outstanding performances throughout the rest of this beautifully recorded set. Particularly noteworthy are the vibrant rustic energy and joie de vivre of both Finales to the Op. 5 Sonatas. Less convincing is the G minor Sonata’s slow introduction, which lacks tension. The opening movement of Op. 69 is also a bit inhibited. Notwithstanding these caveats, these three discs offer compelling and insightful musicianship. Erik Levi