Comparisons: du Pré/Barenboim (EMI) and Harrell/Ashkenazy
is the second volume of a planned series of Beethoven’s music
for cello and piano performed by Maria Kliegel and Nina Tichman.
The first release contains the two Beethoven Op. 5 cello sonatas.
Although fairly young, both Kliegel and Tichman have many recordings
to their credit. Most of Kliegel’s recordings have been for Naxos
and include the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Dvořák, Elgar,
Shostakovich and Schnittke. Tichman has recorded the complete
piano works of Copland and Debussy in addition to a disc of works
for clarinet and piano by Reger.
unusual work on the program is the Op. 64 sonata, which is an
arrangement of Beethoven’s Op. 3 string trio. Although possibly
arranged by Beethoven himself, there is no concrete evidence proving
authorship. Regardless, the arrangement is completely faithful
to the spirit of the String Trio, and I must say that it is a
nice change of pace to hear the work played by cello and piano.
The performances by Kliegel and Tichman are fetching, and I especially
like the rhythmic sway they give the 2nd Menuetto of
this six-movement work.
Variations in F is not among the more substantial of Beethoven’s
early pieces. Light and exuberant, only the 10th and
11th Variations offer deeply poignant and serious refrains.
Kliegel and Tichman deliver an exceptional performance with abundant
energy and enthusiasm. Given their great exuberance, the contrast
with the two serious movements is particularly note-worthy.
far, the most significant work on the program is the Op. 69 Sonata
where Kliegel and Tichman are outstanding. I find that the most
compelling aspect of Beethoven’s cello sonatas is their blend
of rugged determination and sparkling charm/poetry. No version
of Op. 69 displays these characteristics better than the Kliegel.
Both she and Tichman give big-boned readings that are lean, detailed,
and propulsive when required. Most important, their degree of
Viennese poetry is also at peak level, resulting in an exquisite
reading of fine contrasts.
1st Movement Allegro of Op. 69 covers half the work’s
length and contains a heroic element that Kliegel and Tichman
mine thoroughly and in enticing fashion. The 2nd Movement
is a Scherzo in A minor that switches back to A major in the Trio;
Kliegel drives the Scherzo forward with great determination and
flair. The slow movement is very short and essentially represents
an introduction to the Allegro vivace (IV) that is unabashedly
optimistic and playful.
this new Naxos offering holds up very well to the comparison recordings
mentioned above. Usually, I could add the benefit of advantageous
pricing to a Naxos release. However, the fact is that both the
du Pre and Harrell sets of the Cello Sonatas cost substantially
less than the final figure for the Naxos recordings once the cycle
of five sonatas is completed. Kliegel and Tichman do have the
advantage of exceptional modern sound, and their disc is highly
recommended. Once they have fully traversed Beethoven’s music
for cello and piano, their recordings will likely be among the
best on record.
by Leon Bosch
Kevin Sutton's review
of Volume 1