Beethoven: Cello Sonatas and Variations

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Channel
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven Cello Sonatas
WORKS: Cello Sonatas and Variations
PERFORMER: Pieter Wispelwey, Dejan Lazic
It may seem indulgent for an artist barely in his forties to make another recording of Beethoven’s complete cello works just over 13 years after his first attempt. But Pieter Wispelwey amply justifies his retake with a new set that surely ranks among the very finest Beethoven cello cycles ever committed to disc.


In 1991 Wispelwey recorded these works on period instruments with Paul Komen performing on an 1823 Broadway. Here however he shows off his recently acquired Guadagnini, while the brilliant pianist Dejan Lazic´ partners him on a Steinway D. Yet the earlier experience of playing on gut strings against the background of the lighter timbres of the fortepiano has clearly left its mark as both performers simulate many vital aspects of period performance without any trace of self-consciousness. Above all these accounts, outstandingly recorded, communicate a level of vitality and spontaneity that is normally experienced in live concerts. From the very first bar of the F major Sonata one feels that Wispelwey and Lazic´ are re-examining each familiar phrase and finding new and infinitely varied ways of responding to Beethoven’s musical argument. The approach is sufficiently flexible to incorporate noticeable variations of conception according to the different creative periods of the composer’s life. Thus after the vibrant dramatic gestures of the Op. 5 sonatas, Wispelwey and Lazic´ deliver the most expansive and Romantically inflected account of the first movement of Op. 69 one could imagine. Following this they encapsulate the quirky and unexpected realms of fantasy highlighted in the two Op. 102 Sonatas to perfection. Erik Levi