Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beethoven: Cellosonaten Op. 69 & 102, Etc

Argerich reminds us that this is music by a pianist of dynamic personality... A valuable and generously filled issue.

Here again I find these two fine musicians to have a good rapport, and for all her strength of musical personality, Argerich does not overshadow or overpower the cello; the recording helps here, too, by being fairly thoughtfully balanced, although in saying that I must add that Maisky is embarrassingly submerged (partly Beethoven's fault) in such a passage as the one at 7'08'' in the first movement of the A major Sonata.

Even if we don't get the full flavour of the pianist's tone as is heard on her solo recordings, we instantly recognize her first utterances in this work, which begin quietly enough but end with much force. Ditto the tigerish way she begins its scherzo and plays the finale of the C major. Is it a fault that Maisky always sounds gentler and sweeter? Or is it inherent in the nature of their two instruments and thus Beethoven's intention? In any case, Argerich reminds us, perhaps rightly, that this is music by a pianist of dynamic personality as well as a composer at the height of his powers.

These sonatas obviously represent a more mature Beethoven than Nos. 1 and 2 (both 1796) and are correspondingly terser and more compelling. Yet Maisky and Argerich do not let the energy of quicker movements obscure the warmth of more lyrical passages, relaxing the time and tone here without quite letting go of the overall momentum—although at times it's a close thing. One also feels their involvement in their ultra-sensitive handling of slow movements, albeit sometimes too strongly inflected for my taste. While voicing reservations, I'll add that the finale of Op. 69 reminded me of Argerich's ability as a marchande de vitesse and I wonder whether she, rather than Maisky, is dictating pace although he manages to stay with her and remain stylish. The Judas Maccabaeus Variations (music of 1796) are pretty empty stuff, but that's not the artists' fault. Enough of adverse criticism: this is a valuable and generously filled issue. -- Christopher Headington, Gramophone [12/1993]

No comments:

Post a Comment