Peter Martens / Luís Magalhães

Beethoven: Sonatas for Cello and Piano

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The issue of tempo in Beethoven's music has long been a punching bag of debate among performers and scholars alike. Unlike performers before him, Beethoven had access to a new piece of technology -- the metronome -- for which he was a vehement advocate, even going so far as to suggest that metronome markings should replace the more typical "character markings" found at the beginning of a score. While this was not achieved during Beethoven's lifetime, he still incorporated metronome indications on many of his works. Even with such a concrete indication, much controversy remains as to the accuracy of these markings and the reliability of metronomes in Beethoven's time. None of the sonatas for cello and piano received metronome markings from Beethoven himself, but Carl Czerny -- a noted interpreter of Beethoven's music and fellow advocate for the importance of the composer's metronome markings -- did go back and add tempo indications congruent with other compositions. Cellist Peter Martens and pianist Luis Magalhães use Czerny's tempo indications as well as other interpretive guidelines in this Two Pianists set. The result is, as might be expected, an extremely brisk, vigorous reading of the sonatas. Beethoven and Czerny both made it clear that an artist's technical abilities should have no bearing on tempo; both Martens and Magalhães have the polished chops to pull this off: impeccable intonation and wonderfully crisp articulation. What's frustratingly absent from this otherwise riveting set is an acceptable balance between the piano and the cello. The piano dominates throughout, so much so that the cello is at times entirely inaudible.

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