BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonatas Op. 5 Nos. 1, 2 & Op. 69 – Friedrich Kleinhapl, cello/ Andreas Woyke, piano – Ars Produktion

by | Aug 19, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonatas Op. 5 Nos. 1, 2 & Op. 69 – Friedrich Kleinhapl, cello/ Andreas Woyke, piano – Ars Produktion Multichannel SACD ARS 38 035, 74:45 ***** [Distr. by Qualiton]:

Beethoven may have given the official nod to the keyboard player when he pointedly titled the publication of his Opus 5: "Sonatas for piano and cello." Many cellists will disagree; they will tell you that their musical goal is to work as a team. Most pianists will agree. In practice, however, it’s rarely achieved. Which makes this new recording doubly valuable.

Sneaking into each movement with sleek, slick tempos balanced by a poetically light hand on the throttle, the no longer obscure team of Friedrich Kleinhapl and Andreas Woyke positively renovate the old Beethoven homestead. They restore the impact of bold musical statements, and of the central structural position of the big allegro movements; they feel comfortable with adjusting tempos to what they consider are the musical needs of the piece at hand, and they don’t mind speed. Time and time again, they find small beauties of melody and in the most subordinate of sub-thematic layers. Beethoven on the cello rarely runs this smoothly or this deep.

In the Scherzo of Op. 69, Kleinhapl and Woyke rediscover the joys of a fast-as-you-can tempo, and then proceed to courageously and outrageously re-phrase the big tune in the Trio, an impudent act which will have cellists and critics scurrying to consult their history books.  

From a soundmeister’s viewpoint, cello and piano must be a difficult combination to record. The balance between the instruments varies, but caught at the right volume, the sound softens and takes on a transparent glow, like analogue. The right volume is somewhere just beyond your reach, on the boundary between two of the possible listening perspectives: From the control room where you can turn it up really loud, or crouching on the stage at the cellist’s side. In either case, Kleinhapl’s GB Guadagnini cello (1743) swoops you up and puts you in the driver’s seat as the music resonates through your body and soul.

The SACD version creates a tangible sense of presence and depth adorned with high-quality, vinyl-type instrumental color and detail; it’s caught to impressive degree in conventional CD playback. Kleinhapl’s engaging and informative liner notes are translated with enthusiasm, rustic charm and poetry.

– Laurence Vittes

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