Yehuda Hanani

Beethoven: Complete Music for Cello and Piano

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Beethoven: Complete Music for Cello and Piano Review

by Mike D. Brownell

With so many magnificent recordings available of Beethoven's complete works for cello and piano, this addition by cellist Yehuda Hanani and pianist Walter Ponce does little to compel listeners to add it to their collections. For starters, intonation is extremely problematic on each and every track. Sometimes flat, sometimes sharp, but always inconsistent, Hanani at times sits on out-of-tune long notes or executes repeated notes at different pitches. This alone may render the collection unsatisfactory for many listeners.

From a more stylistic perspective, Hanani makes many attempts to give a unique performance, but some of his choices are unwelcome. The A major sonata, for example, is filled with rhythmic articulation alterations that simply are not indicated in the score. Tenutos used continuously to set off rhythmic motives and lack of true legato playing robs this sonata of its charm and grace. Hanani also relies on glissandi and drop shifts as an emotive tool rather than implementing changes in tone color or creating an arching melodic line. This recording is definitely not recommended as a first or archetypal album for a collection. Listeners are encouraged to investigate the superlative collaborations of Rostropovich and Richter or Fournier and Kempff for much more pleasing executions of these masterpieces.

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