Antonio Meneses

Beethoven: Complete Works for Piano & Cello

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Cellist Antonio Meneses and pianist Menahem Pressler have played together for more than a decade, primarily in their role as members of the infamous Beaux Arts Trio (which sadly retired in 2008). Given such a long-standing and intimate relationship, it's a bit of a surprise that the two have not produced other recordings of cello-piano literature. If they are to produce only one album together as a duo, listeners should be delighted that they saved Beethoven for that occasion. Written across the breadth of his output, Beethoven's works for cello and piano are remarkable treasures of equal partnership in spite of Beethoven's traditional placement as the piano first on the title page. Meneses and Pressler exemplify this partnership of equals; never once in the two-disc set is there the slightest hint of struggle for control, dominance, or leadership. Meneses' playing is remarkably refined and subtle; vibrato is used more as an ornament rather than a constant presence, slides and glissandos are implemented rarely and tastefully. Pressler's playing is, as would be expected, every bit as refined and nuanced. His touch at the piano is always effortless and graceful, seeming to pull the maximum amount of sound from his instrument with the minimal amount of effort. Dialogue between the two artists is as seamless as could ever be hoped for, producing a prime example of chamber music at its best. Listeners may notice that some of the tempo choices are a bit slower than customary, a feature often found in the Beaux Arts Trio's Beethoven performances. While these performances certainly have a tendency toward being more relaxed, Meneses and Pressler more than make up for this by incorporating additional levels of detail and refinement in their playing.

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