" What is it that makes this recording so special? The answer can already be found in the album’s title: the use of period instruments."
This month is The Holland Times turns to say something about our recent release 'PENTATONE OXINGALE SERIES Beethoven, Period.' with Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O'Riley. This nicely written review was written by Mimis Chrysomallis and featured on their April Edition.
Unlike Haydn or Mozart, who never composed sonatas for cello and piano, Beethoven did so over three distinct periods in his career. It was in Berlin in 1796 where Beethoven met the cello-playing
King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm II and, impressed by the high quality of musical activity at the Potsdam court, was inspired to compose his first set of cello sonatas (No.1 in F Major and No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 5). During the same period, Beethoven also composed three sets of variations based on popular themes from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus and Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.
Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69 was written in 1808, an immensely productive period in the composer’s career (in the same year, Beethoven also completed and published his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies). Seven years later, in 1815, Beethoven returned to the genre with his final set of sonatas (No. 4 in C major and No. 5 in D major, Op. 102). Even today, two centuries after they were composed, these late sonatas sound and feel surprisingly modern. One can only imagine how odd and incomprehensible they must have seemed to Beethoven’s contemporaries. Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for fortepiano and violoncello are given a new treatment by Israeli-born cellist Matt Haimovitz (who attracted international attention by performing Bach’s cello suites in night clubs across the United States in 2002) and American pianist Christopher O’Riley (host of NPR’s popular radio show From the Top) in ‘BEETHOVEN, Period.’, the first title in the new PENTATONE OXINGALE series. Given the amount of existing recordings and the high stature of earlier interpretations (e.g. by Mischa Maisky and Martha Argerich, or Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter), one may ask: what is it that makes this recording so special?
The answer can already be found in the album’s title: the use of period instruments. Haimovitz plays his own Goffriller cello (crafted in Venice in 1710), while O’Riley plays on an original Broadwood fortepiano made in 1823, the model that immediately followed the one Thomas Broadwood sent to Beethoven himself in 1817 as a gift. It is the nuances of these remarkable instruments and the dynamics between them, brought forth by the skilled and imaginative performances of Haimovitz and O’Riley, that give this recording a unique place in the discography of Beethoven’s works for cello and piano.