As an adjunct to her recordings of Beethoven’s piano sonatas,
Angela Hewitt here embarks upon a survey of Beethoven’s music
for cello and piano. Her companion in this enterprise is Daniel
Müller-Schott and their traversal of the first three cello sonatas
is fully worthy of both of them. They give us Beethoven playing
of poetry, sensitivity and flying sparks. While not displacing
any of the classics, such as Fournier/Kempff, Rostropovich/Richter
(on Philips CD or EMI
Pré/Barenboim or Schiff/Perényi
(my benchmark among modern readings), this disc deserves a place
In fact, the partnership of Hewitt and Müller-Schott makes an interesting
contrast with that of András Schiff and Miklós Perényi. All
four are thinking musicians, but where on ECM Perényi is suave
and poetic and Schiff is more mercurial and explosive, the roles
are reversed on the Hyperion disc. Müller-Schott is the more
chimerical of the two, and Hewitt the more elegant. Both partnerships
thrive on these contrasts and if in the final analysis I prefer
the ECM set, it is a close run thing. Schiff is more assertive
at the keyboard and his collaboration with Perényi is a truly
equal partnership. As much as I admire Hewitt’s Fazioli, which
brings its customary lightness and clarity of articulation,
she has a tendency to defer to the burring and purring of Müller-Schott
's 1727 Matteo Gofriller cello.
And who can blame her? Müller-Schott's tone, by turns gruff and eloquent,
is captivating. He brings an impassioned languor to the slow
introduction to the first movement of Op.5 No.1, which blossoms
into generous warmth of expression in the first movement proper,
contrasting with Hewitt's playful, nuanced pianism. There is
emotional intensity too in the opening of second sonata, with
throaty playing from cello and delicate pianissimo from piano
before a first movement that swings from tragedy to wistfulness.
The finale sparkles with earthy merry making.
Phrasing is free and natural and tempi flexible in both of the Op.5
sonatas, but as good as they are, it is the Op.69 that is the
highlight of this disc. This receives a performance of emotional
depth, warmth and humour. Müller-Schott's eloquent expression
at the top of his register is impressive, as is the rhythmic
drive that both artists bring to the warmth and bustle of scherzo.
The short adagio cantabile really sings and the finale, with
flashes of rapid finger work from Hewitt and the sweetness of
Müller-Schott's tone at the top of his range, is joyful and
Hyperion's sonics are warm and natural, though slightly reverberant.
The erudite liner notes were co-written by Müller-Schott and
This is wonderful, life-affirming music making and whets the appetite
for more from this exciting partnership.