Beethoven: Complete works for cello and piano: Cello Sonatas; Variations etc

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Complete works for cello and piano: Cello Sonatas; Variations etc
PERFORMER: Antonio Meneses (cello), Menahem Pressler (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2103

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These recordings, made during the Beaux Arts Trio’s last season together, are a wonderful testament to the exemplary partnership that has developed between cellist Antonio Meneses and pianist Menahem Pressler over the past decade. They are absolutely at one over matters of balance, phrasing and articulation, creating a unity of musical direction in each of these works that can only be attained after many years of playing chamber music together. Generally they take an expansive view of all the Sonatas, adopting somewhat measured tempos for all faster movements. This is particularly effective in the later works, bringing extra gravitas to the Vivace of the C major and enabling all the individual strands in the musical argument to be heard with exemplary clarity in the D major’s fugal finale. Less convincing is their approach to the earlier sonatas which at times could be more mercurial. For example, the Allegro molto più tosto presto in the G minor doesn’t seem sufficiently driven for the music’s Sturm und Drang character, whilst the ensuing Allegro could benefit from being more playful. In a crowded field, these fine performances certainly warrant serious consideration. But for a more immediate and incisive musical experience, Pieter Wispelwey and Dejan Lazi´c on Channel Classics offer even greater insight, sparking off each other in a way that manages to re-invigorate every musical gesture and make one listen with fresh ears to these remarkable works. Erik Levi