Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67981/2

Cello Sonata in G minor, Op 5 No 2

1796; Berlin; first performed by Jean-Louis Duport and Beethoven in early 1797 at the court of Friedrich Wilhelm II, in whose honour it was written; published by Artaria in 1797

Steven Isserlis (cello), Robert Levin (fortepiano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: December 2012
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jens Braun
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: January 2014
Total duration: 28 minutes 47 seconds

Cover artwork: Photograph of cello scroll by Christopher Martyn

Other recordings available for download

Melvyn Tan (fortepiano), Anthony Pleeth (cello)
Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), Angela Hewitt (piano)


'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)

'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 1's ‘improvised’ slow movement and a Op 102 No 2 of tragic violence' (BBC Music Magazine)» More

'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

'In these musical juggernauts, the superb ensemble playing of Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin is especially breathtaking. The duo probably work hard to achieve the kind of balance of sound Beethoven had in mind, but it all seems so effortless, and so joyously executed, that work is the last thing you’ll think of as you listen' (Audiophile Audition, USA)» 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)» More

'Highly recommended' (AllMusic, USA)» More

'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' (Classical Source)» 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

'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)» More

The second Sonata of Op 5 was the subject of an amusing incident in the spring of 1799. Domenico Dragonetti, as legend has it the greatest double bass player in history, was passing through Vienna on his way from Venice to London. He soon met Beethoven, as an English friend, Samuel Appleby, recalled:

Beethoven had been told that his new friend could execute violoncello music upon his huge instrument, and one morning, when Dragonetti called at his room, he expressed his desire to hear a sonata. The contrabass was sent for, and the Sonata, No 2 of Op 5, was selected. Beethoven played his part, with his eyes immovably fixed upon his companion, and, in the finale, where the arpeggios occur, was so delighted and excited that at the close he sprang up and threw his arms around both player and instrument.

Like the First Sonata the G minor work has a slow introduction, which here is even more expansive, amounting to an expressive and often dramatic fantasia. The first Allegro is an example of Beethoven’s predilection for including a wide range of diverse material within one movement. The restrained opening theme is soon interrupted by a forte idea accompanied by pounding quaver triplets which are only brought to a halt with the lead-in to the more song-like second subject. The finale is again a rondo, this time in 2/4 time and in G major, with a variety of lively rhythmic patterning and much rapid figuration in demi-semiquavers, culminating in a hectic coda.

from notes by Matthew Rye © 1996

La seconde sonate de l’opus 5 fut l’objet d’un incident amusant. Au printemps 1799, Domenico Dragonetti, que la légende considère comme le plus grand contrebassiste de l’histoire, se rendit de Venise à Londres, via Vienne, où il rencontra bientôt Beethoven, comme le rapporta un ami anglais, Samuel Appleby:

Beethoven avait appris que son nouvel ami pouvait exécuter de la musique pour violoncelle sur son énorme instrument. La contrebasse fut envoyée chercher, et la sonate no2 de l’opus 5 choisie. Beethoven joua sa partie, les yeux immuablement fixés sur son compagnon, jusqu’au finale et à l’apparition des arpèges. Là, il fut si enchanté et excité qu’il se leva d’un bond et lança ses bras autour du joueur et de l’instrument.

extrait des notes rédigées par Matthew Rye © 1996
Français: Hypérion

Die zweite Sonate des Op 5 war im Frühjahr 1799 Gegenstand eines amüsanten Zwischenfalles. Domenico Dragonetti, den die Legende als besten Kontrabaßisten der Geschichte wissen will, hatte seine Reiseroute von Venedig nach London über Wien gelegt. Dort traf er schon bald mit Beethoven zusammen, wie sich ein englischer Freund, Samuel Appleby, erinnert:

Man hatte Beethoven erzählt, sein neuer Freund könne auf seinem großen Instrument Musik für das Violoncello spielen, und eines Morgens, als Dragonetti ihn in seinem Zimmer besuchte, äußerte er den Wunsch, eine Sonate zu hören. Es wurde nach dem Kontrabaß geschickt und die Sonate Nr. 2 des Op 5 gewählt. Während er seinen Teil der Musik spielte, wendete Beethoven nicht einen Moment die Augen von seinem musikalischen Kompagnon ab und war von den Arpeggios des Finales so begeistert und erregt, daß er zum Schluß aufsprang und seine Arme um sowohl Musiker als auch Instrument warf.

Wie die erste Sonate wird das Werk in g-Moll langsam eingeführt und hier sogar noch expansiver gestaltet, indem schließlich eine ausdrucksvolle und zuweilen dramatische Fantasie entwickelt wird. Das erste Allegro ist ein Beispiel von Beethovens Vorliebe, in einen Satz eine große Palette von unterschiedlichem Material einzubauen. Das verhaltene Thema der Eröffnung wird schon bald von einer mit forte bezeichneten Idee unterbrochen und von dröhnenden Achtelnoten-Triolen begleitet, denen erst beim Übergang zum zweiten, liederähnlichen Thema Einhalt geboten wird. Wiederum erscheint das Finale in Gestalt eines Rondos, dieses Mal im Zweivierteltakt und G-Dur, mit einer Vielfalt an lebhaft rhythmischen Strukturen und manch schneller Figuration in Zweiunddreißigstelnoten, bis es schließlich in einer hektischen Coda seinen Höhepunkt erreicht.

aus dem Begleittext von Matthew Rye © 1996
Deutsch: Ute Mansfeldt

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas, Vol. 1
CDA67633Archive Service
Beethoven: Complete Cello Music
CDD220042CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1) — Archive Service
Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...