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Hyperion Records

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Photograph of cello scroll by Christopher Martyn
www.finelystrung.com
Track(s) taken from CDA67981/2
Recording details: December 2012
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jens Braun
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: January 2014
Total duration: 14 minutes 14 seconds

'Isserlis has the theme but Levin is no mere accompanist, fastidious in his role as a partner yet one who never overwhelms the cello, even in the chords and roulades during a brief spell of agitation towards the end of this introduction … try Allegro ma non tanto, Op 69 … we're back to expressive flexibility, and we stay with individuals who speak as corporate souls. Tenderness to turbulence, the frames of mind or spirit alter and are neither ignored nor glossed over. Instead they are profoundly felt and candidly declared' (Gramophone) » More

'This set contains some of the finest Beethoven performances you are likely to hear. Steven Isserlis is on blazing form: every note lives, every movement is characterised with infectious relish; his range is breathtaking. The ensemble with Robert Levin is dynamic, intimate, often electric. There’s a sense of two powerful minds intensely engaged in Beethoven's dialogue … At its best, it’s unbeatable: highlights include a crazily impetuous finale to the Sonata Op 5 No. 1; Sonata Op 5 No 2’s limping introduction; a radiant opening to Op 69 which ends in an Allegro vivace of festive fire; the dreamy wildness of Op 102 No. Is ‘improvised’ slow movement and a Op 102 No 2 of tragic violence' (BBC Music Magazine) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'This remarkable set contains probably the most significant recordings of these masterpieces ever issued … Steven Isserlis is not one to force his personality upon everything he plays, with the result that all such music has a similar patina of expression, and in the Op. 5 Sonatas he plavs a perfect role to Levin’s more significant part, yet at all times he infuses the cello line with character and a full tone which makes a perfect complement to the inherent musical argument … These great masterpieces receive splendid accounts from these masterly musicians and the three lighter sets of variations find Beethoven and his instrumentalists in less profound mood. They are most winningly performed … The recorded quality and instrumental balance are first-class, as we have invariably come to expect from this company' (International Record Review) » More

'Beethoven's five cello sonatas … sum up a dazzling career. In the hands of Steven Isserlis, a great champion of these pieces, here accompanied on fortepiano by Robert Levin, they jump off the musical history page with an irresistible energy and then dance around the room … Levin's fortepiano playing lends frankness, high colour and tenderness by turn' (The Independent on Sunday) » More

'The music drama deserves the duo's strong emotions, firm accenting and virile leaps. Levin supplies his own muscular music-making … there's hushed delicacy too, just as there is in Isserlis's cello when Beethoven chooses to relax. Try, for example, the gravely affecting adagio of Op 102 No 2' (The Times) » More

'Isserlis brings great freshness and vigour to Beethoven’s complete works for cello and keyboard. Levin's fortepiano is an ideal match, with a sinuous, intimate sound well captured by Hyperion's microphones. Recommended' (Classical Music)

'No matter how familiar you are with this music, there are tens of fine recordings already, you need this one, and it would be a yardstick starting-point. Isserlis and Levin’s performances represent pure musical enjoyment and revelations (surprises and shocks) from start to finish' (ClassicalSource.com) » More

'Musicien remarquable et savant, fin connaisseur des classiques viennois, interprète rompu aux instruments d'époque, Robert Levin est-il pour autant le partenaire idéal de Steven Isserlis … sommet d'inspiration, la Sonate op.69 (1807-1808) bénéficie d'une lecture nerveuse, concentrée, d'une belle musicalité, qui ne le cède en énergie, en âpreté, en modelé qu'aux plus grandes versions sur instruments modernes' (Diapason, France) » More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING

'Robert Levin et Steven Isserlis parviennent en effet dans les Sonates op. 5 à un équilibre sonore naturel leur permettant d’associer la verve classique et la liberté pré-romantique présentes dans ces deux partitions de jeunesse. On perçoit également parfaitement comme le style beethovénien s’affirme dans la Sonate op. 69, comme l’écriture se dessine et se structure, en une véritable fête permanente et perpétuellement attrayante. Il ne faudrait toutefois pas penser que l’on assiste à une conférence esthétique : au contraire, cette justesse de propos doit sa réussite à l’enthousiasme des deux musiciens qui parviennent brillamment à dégager de chaque mesure une âme musicale convaincante, à l’image de la Sonate op. 102 no 1' (Classica, France)

Horn Sonata in F major, Op 17
composer

Allegro moderato  [7'50]

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