Friedrich Kleinhapl / Andreas Woyke

Beethoven: Sonatas, Vol. 2

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Marking the beginning of his "late period," Beethoven's final two sonatas for cello and piano were written in a year in which the composer produced very little else. They largely abandon many traditional tenets of the classical sonata in their truncated length and atypical movement orientation. In the right hands these two sonatas are a tremendous insight into Beethoven's mindset at the time, and the quality of the works to come. Enter cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl and pianist Andreas Woyke, whose vision for these late, sophisticated sonatas is one of surprising energy and spontaneity. Kleinhapl's playing here is quite edgy, almost aggressive, with a bow stroke so short and dry in the fast movements that a pitch is almost indiscernible. For some listeners, this markedly vertical approach will likely be an immediate turn off. For others, Kleinhapl will be heralded for offering a new sense of vitality to two sonatas, which are often treated far too daintily. The sound achieved by Woyke and Kleinhapl, and captured on their Ars Produktion album, is immaculately clear and precise while maintaining a sense of depth and richness. Also on this album is a curious transcription of the Violin Sonata No. 10, Op. 96, by the performers. The arrangement itself is certainly acceptable, but Kleinhapl's playing here seems strained, tenuous, and far more cautious than what is achieved in the cello sonatas.

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