BEETHOVEN CELLO AND PIANO SONATAS

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Cello: Peter Martens
Piano: Luis Magalhães

Cat. #: TP1039053 | Double CD
Label: TwoPianists Records
Recorded at: Endler Hall, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, September 7-13, 2009

ABOUT

Beethoven indisputably wanted his music played within the speeds he envisaged as he composed each piece, and these artists have striven to recreate this vision with integrity. In this groundbreaking recreation of these six sonatas, Peter Martens and Luis Magalhães collaborated with Beethoven specialist Dr Stewart Young, aiming to bring the true intentions of the composer to the fore through seeking to incorporate a wide range of aspects of period performance practice which in their opinion will always retain its validity. While working imaginatively with such interpretative possibilities, the artists remained always within the fundamental tempi frameworks that Beethoven himself had insisted on, as stipulated* by Carl Czerny. Uniquely steeped in things Beethovenian, he also provided detailed authentic and indispensable insights on interpretation - and they also incorporated much recent research on e.g. articulations and dynamics. * In his 1846 section - ‘On the Correct Performance’ of all the Beethoven piano works.
Peter Martens delivers brilliantly incisive and spirited accounts of all these works
Joanne Talbot, The Strad Feb 2011
While planning our approach to this recording, we decided to broaden our interpretative horizons through interaction with Beethoven specialist Dr Stewart Young, whose decades of research into his music has been ongoing and is not limited to the thorny tempo issues surrounding particularly his metronome marks. Whilst all interpretative decisions were of course our own, we benefitted from the open interaction provided by an ‘outside’ pair of ears in discussion, rehearsal and the sessions themselves.
We especially placed value upon the interpretative legacy on things Beethovenian that his pupil and highly respected pianist friend Carl Czerny assembled in his extensive 1846 notes on the “Correct Performance” of all Beethoven’s keyboard works, currently available in German facsimile and English translation. (Universal Edition UE13340) Czerny had had the unique privilege of studying with the master for some years, and at 21 was soloist in the Vienna première of the ‘Emperor’ Concerto. In 1824 he felt he had to decline Beethoven’s short-notice request to contribute just its 2nd and 3rd movements in the repeat of the ‘Akademie’ at which his 9th Symphony was premièred - an invitation confirming the highest regard with which Beethoven viewed him.
What would today’s performers give for a time-machine lesson from a musician with such access and experience? Fortunately, much of what he would impart is available in his published advice and, as interpreters, we have tried to take this to heart fully and thus honour his overall philosophy of service to the composer’s conceptions, through always working within his suggested tempi (about which he echoes Beethoven’s own expressed view of it as absolutely fundamental) and aiming to recreate imaginatively and as faithfully as possible the various characters he suggested.
Peter Martens
Luis Magalhães

TRACK LIST

CD 1
Sonata in C major Op. 102 no.1
01 - Andante - Allegro vivace
02 - Adagio - Tempo d’Andante - Alegro vivace
Sonata in F major Op. 5 no. 1
03 - Adagio sostenuto – Allegro
04 - Rondo. Allegro vivace
Sonata in A major Op. 69
05 - Allegro ma non tanto
06 - Scherzo. Allegro molto
07 - Adagio cantabile - Allegro vivace
CD2
Sonata in F major Op. 17
01 - Allegro moderato
02 - Poco Adagio, quasi Andante
03 - Rondo. Allegro moderato
Sonata in G minor Op. 5 no. 2
04 - Adagio sostenuto e espressivo - Allegro molto più tosto presto
05 - Rondo. Allegro
Sonata in D major Op. 102 no. 2
06 - Allegro con brio
07 - Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto
08 - Allegro fugato

REVIEWS

Zwei, die sich viel zu sagen haben.
Ludwig van Beethovens Sonaten für Violoncello und Klavier gehören nicht nur zu den interessantesten Beiträgen zu dieser Gattung. Sie begründen sie auch gewissermaßen, wobei die Betonung auf Sonaten für Violoncello und Klavier liegt, fungieren doch beide Instrumente als gleichwertige Partner. Darüber hinaus erlauben sie einen Einblick in die Kompositionswerkstatt, da sie das gesamte Schaffen von Beethoven umfassen: angefangen von der frühen, noch ‚konventionellen‘ Sonate in F-Dur op. 5,1 bis hin zur Sonate in D-Dur op. 102,2 mit der raffinierten Doppelfuge. Alle fünf Werke und die Violoncello-Fassung der Hornsonate op. 17, die nach neueren Forschungen durchaus als authentisch gelten kann, liegen nun in einer neuen Einspielung von Peter Martens, Violoncello, und Luis Magalhaes, Klavier, vor.
Wenn Goethes bekanntes Bonmot zutrifft, dass ein Streichquartett ein vernünftiges Gespräch unter vier Musikern sei: Was kommt wohl heraus, wenn sich Violoncello und Klavier unterhalten? Peter Martens und Luis Magalhaes geben die Antwort mit erstaunlichen Interpretationen: ein intimer geistreicher Dialog. Blitzwach verfolgt man gespannt den eindringlichen Gedankenaustausch. Da leuchten subtile Motivverknüpfungen zwischen den Sätzen auf. Die Sonate für Klavier und Violoncello in A-Dur op. 69, lässt auch erkennen, dass Beethoven ein profunder Kenner der Musik Bachs war, ihr einiges abgeschaut und für seine Werke dienstbar gemacht hat. Das wird oft interpretatorisch unterschlagen, dabei sind die Sachverhalte offensichtlich.
Die Interpretation der berühmten A-Dur-Sonate ist hörbar bewegt vom Wissen um solche Unterströmungen. Virtuose Impulse, etwa im Scherzo, dienen als Interpunktion vor dem Hintergrund einer traumwandlerischen Klanggewichtung, gepaart mit einer fragilen Transparenz und Hintergründigkeit. Da gibt es nichts Geziertes, dafür aber ein dramaturgisches Ereignis mit lebhaften Dialogen zwischen den Instrumenten.
Das zeigt sich auch in der Sonate für Klavier und Violoncello in D-Dur op. 102,2 deren brausender Dur-Ausklang des vierten Satzes nicht als überladenes Schlussritual, sondern als affirmatives zurückschauendes ‚Nun doch‘ auf einen wunderschön gestaltetes 'Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto' verstanden werden konnte. Mit souveräner Besonnenheit liefern die Musiker, eine inspirierte Sichtweise, die jedoch gleichzeitig gepaart ist mit einer ausgesprochenen Vitalität, bei der aber die sensibilisierte, höchst verfeinerte Atmosphäre dieser Musik nicht verloren geht.
Klassik.com Michael Pitz-Grewenig, 14.01.2012

Winner of the South African Music Award 2011 for Best Classical Album.

Beethoven’s metronome marks have always been a matter of dispute, especially the fast ones, leading to the suggestion that his metronome—a brand-new invention—was inaccurate. In 1846, Beethoven’s student and friend, the pianist Carl Czerny, published a book on the “Correct Performance of Beethoven’s Keyboard Works.” He added his own metronome marks, which, based on his familiarity with the master’s style, offer a unique window into Beethoven’s intentions.
On this recording of Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas (including the Horn Sonata, Op. 17), South African cellist Peter Martens and Portuguese pianist Luis Magalhaes give their interpretations a special kind of authenticity by not only meticulously observing the score’s phrasing and dynamics, but also by following Czerny’s metronome marks.
Still, despite its interesting underlying concept, what makes the recording most remarkable is the excellence of the performances: technically flawless, perfect in ensemble, and strikingly expressive, especially in the slow movements. The cellist’s tone is pure and beautiful, the changes of mood and character are natural and organic. The balance between rhythmic steadiness and flexibility is admirable. The tempi do not differ as much from those used by most players as one would expect, though the fast movements are perhaps more distinctly brisk. This recording is a splendid addition to the discography of these great works, marred only by excessive dynamic contrasts and harsh, percussive sforzati in the piano, which seem to be equally explosive at all dynamic levels.
Strings Magazine, May 2011

Beethoven, both as a man and a composer has held a fascination for me for many years. His music moves me and talks to me, all the more bearing in mind the incomprehensible hurdle of his deafness. I’ve read a comment that his music was groundbreaking because he didn’t hear anyone else’s music that could influence him, but I somehow think this diminishes the man’s innovative genius. He was the first great composer who successfully overcame the extreme difficulty of balancing the sound of cello and piano.
The reason for this piece is a new release of a double CD by the Two Pianists label of Beethoven’s six sonatas for cello and piano, played by Peter Martens (cello) and Luis Magalhaes. One can listen to several recordings of a work or works and then suddenly a recording comes along that makes one sit up and really take notice. This was exactly my reaction on listening to these six magnificent pieces. The two musicians worked closely with Beethoven expert and researcher, Dr. Stuart Young, with regard to the correct tempi. The music is familiar but is played with such gusto – it’s vibrant and exciting and one can literally feel the energy and enjoyment radiating from Martens and Magalhaes.
If you don’t know this music, then these two CD’s are a must for becoming familiar with it. If you are familiar with the music, I cannot recommend these recordings highly enough. This is, in my opinion, a must for any lover of Beethoven’s music.
There is a most interesting and informative booklet about tempi and how, according to Beethoven’s pupil and friend, Carl Czerny, the composer wanted the music played. This is a beautifully produced and recorded product with excellent sound.
Lorraine Braid, FMR May 2011

“Peter Martens delivers brilliantly incisive and spirited accounts of all these works and makes a particularly good case for the cello arrangement of the Horn Sonata op.17. “
Joanne Talbot, The Strad Feb 2011

“Twee Stellenbosse musici – die tjellis Peter Martens en die Portugees gebore pianis Luis Magalhães – het al diep spore in die Suid-Afrikaanse kunsmusiekbedryf getrap. Hul jongste bydrae is ’n uitmuntende dubbelalbum van al Beethoven se sonates vir tjello en klavier: die twee (in F en G) van op. 5, in F van op. 17, in A van op. 69, en die twee (in C en D) van op. 102. Dié twee CD’s is in bepaalde opsigte baanbrekerswerk, met dié dat Martens en Magalhães gaan kers opsteek het by die musikoloog en Beethoven-spesialis dr. Stewart Young. Die doel was om opnuut te kyk na die sonates, en so na as moontlik die korrekte tempi deur die ganse oeuvre bepaal.
Met die eerste deurluister is ’n mens bewus van taamlik maklik waarneembare tempo-keuses, sou jy by ’n gegewe punt jou beroep op die veel ouer opnames van Casals, Fournier, Tortellier, Heinrich Schiff en meer onlangs Truls Mønk.
Vir dié doel het die musici hul ook vergewis van die insigte wat spruit uit die navorsing van Beethoven se groot student- bewonderaar, Carl Czerny. Czerny is baie beslis oor die tempi-aspekte van Beethoven se musiek: “Dit is ... ’n fundamentele stap om die korrekte tempo’s te bepaal, want ’n foutiewe tempo-keuse verander die karakter van die musiek en die stuk is misvorm.”
Plaas jy gedeeltes van die Martens-Magalhães-kombinasie neffens byvoorbeeld dié van Fournier, of enige van die ander, met miskien die uitsondering van Mønk, blyk die uitvoeringspraktyk aansienlik te verskil. In die voortreflike CD-boekie, vol leersame inligting danksy deeglike navorsing, verwys hulle dikwels na die metronoom se tempo-aanduidings, wat Beethoven nié vir sy tjellosonates verskaf het nie. Vandaar die onmisbaarheid van Czerny se opvattings.
In ’n ander opsig gee die album ’n oorsig van die kreatiewe proses van Beethoven se komposisionele lewensduur. Die ses sonates oorspan sy drie komposisie-tydperke. (Sés, met die insluiting van op. 17, wat hy self vir tjello herskryf het vanaf sy aanvanklike Sonate vir Franse horing.) Wat oorkoepelend uit dié sonate-stel blyk, is hoe merkbaar ligter die aanslag word, en hoe misleidend die tjello as ’n ideale “treur”-instrument kan wees. Daar is deurgaans gewis liriese oomblikke in die pragtige samespel tussen die tjellis en pianis, byvoorbeeld aan die begin van op. 69.
In die blitsige Rondo van die op. 5 no. 1 lê daar selfs in die klankkonflikte tussen die uiteenlopende timbres hoopvolle aspirasies, wat nie so gul uit ander benaderings ontvang word nie. Dié stimulerende vertolkings word onderlê deur puik tegniese versorging en ’n hoogs professionele aanbieding. Inderdaad ’n album wat hoë lof verdien as ’n belangrike klankdokument.”
Beeld, South Africa, Feb 2011 (Afrikaans)

Hoe wriemel ’n mens se gemoed nie as jy ’n musiekstuk hoor en die tempo is net té vinnig of té stadig? Enigiets van ’n kerkgesang wat die orrelis Sondag effens stadig gespeel het tot ’n nagemaakte Michael Jackson se trae “Beat It” of jou gunsteling-concerto waarvan die tempo jou effens ongemaklik stem. Dit kan nogal uiters irriterend wees, want ’n musiekstuk se tempo (soos sy melodie en die harmonieë) is deel van ons ervaring van musiek; daardie onbeskryf¬like iets wat ons laat weet ons is absoluut mal en aangeraak deur die musiek, of dat
5 ons dit gladnie kan verdra nie.Tempo verander tog die ganse aard van enige musiekstuk; maak dit óf vrolik óf melancholies. Maar in die uitvoering van klassieke musiek is die komponis nooit byderhand om jou ’n pols in die regte rigting te gee nie. Oor Beethoven se tempo-aanduidings het musikoloë al dikwels vasgesit, want daar word (onder meer) gesê dat sy musiek vinniger gespeel moet word as sy eie metronoom-aanduidings. (Die metronoom is in sy tyd, vroeë 19de eeu, in gebruik geneem.) Veral die tempo van Beethoven se simfonieë kom dikwels onder skoot, en ’n paar jaar gelede kon Kapenaars juis ’n uitvoering van sy Negende Simfonie teen ’n snelle pas onder leiding van die Amerikaanse dirigent-motiveringspreker Benjamin Zander hier hoor. Twee plaaslike musici verbonde aan die Stellenbosse Konservatorium, die tjellis Peter Martens en die gebore Portugese pianis Luis Magalhães, het onlangs Beethoven se tjellosonates opgeneem. In hul notas by dié dubbelalbum skryf hulle dat hulle saam met die musikus Stewart Young gaan kyk het na wat die Oostenrykse komponis Carl Czerny (1791–1857) oor sy leermeester se tempo-aanduidings sê. Hul uitvoering van en tempokeuses vir die ses sonates is hierop gebaseer. Maar al die debat en opinies oor Beet¬hoven se tempi ter syde, bied Martens en Magalhães hier iets besonders – ’n ryk album met musiek vol bruisende lewe. Tegnies is albei musici se spel bewonderenswaardig, en jy word getref deur hul fyn aanvoeling vir die styl, maar ook ’n soort musikale vryheid wat die musiek met jou in gesprek laat tree. Ook val die hoë gehalte van die opname self op. Die sonates is in die Endlersaal in Stellenbosch opgeneem en die album word uitgegee deur TwoPianists, die platemaatskappy van Magalhães en sy vrou, Nina Schumann. Hierdie opnames van Beethoven se tjellosonates is verruklike musiek wat inderdaad jou gemoed laat wriemel, maar teen nét die regte tempo.
Die Burger, Wayne Muller, Feb 2011 (Afrikaans)