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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Cello Sonata in F major, Op.5 No.1 (1797) [24:35]
Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.5 No.2 (1797) [26:02]
Cello Sonata in A major, Op.69 (1808) [27:12]
Daniel Müller-Schott (cello); Angela Hewitt (piano)
rec. 2-5 January 2008, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin. DDD
HYPERION CDA67633 [78:07] 


Experience Classicsonline

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 DVD), Du Pré/Barenboim or Schiff/Perényi (my benchmark among modern readings), this disc deserves a place alongside them.

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 high spirited. 

Hyperion's sonics are warm and natural, though slightly reverberant. The erudite liner notes were co-written by Müller-Schott and Hewitt themselves. 

This is wonderful, life-affirming music making and whets the appetite for more from this exciting partnership.

Tim Perry


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