Maurice Gendron / Mstislav Rostropovich

Beethoven: Complete Music for Cello & Piano

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This set of recordings made in 1963 by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and pianist Sviatoslav Richter of Beethoven's cello sonatas are the most virtuosic, the most lyrical, the most dramatic, the most expressive, the most intense, the most ecstatic, and, in a word, the greatest ever recorded. From the Empfindung style of the Op. 5 sonatas through the "Eroica" style of the Op. 69 sonata to the Elysium style of the Op. 102 sonatas, Beethoven's five cello sonatas are a précis of the highlights of his career as a composer. And from their extraordinary virtuosity, through their singing tone and their muscular rhythms to their translucent ensemble, Rostropovich and Richter's performances are the scores aurally realized and transformed through their consummate musicianship. Of course, you should hear the Casals/Serkin for its soulful depths, the Fournier/Kempff for its noble lyricism, and the Maisky/Argerich for its passionate virtuosity. But at the end of the day, it's the Rostropovich/Richter that you'll want to go home with. Like Schnabel's piano sonatas and Kreisler and Rupp's violin sonatas, Rostropovich and Richter's cello sonatas are the ones you'll want to grow old with. This is as good as it gets in this world.

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