Laurence Lesser / Hae Sun Paik

Beethoven: The Complete Music for Cello & Piano

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Although a generation of composers before him had neglected to write sonatas for cello and piano, Beethoven turned to the genre during all three of his commonly known style periods. Each time, he revolutionized the form, the independence of the cello, and increased the musical demands of the performer.The five sonatas and three variation sets are jewels of the repertoire and served as springboards for more than a century of composers to follow. This Bridge Records set features cellist Laurence Lesser and pianist Hae Sun Paik in a complete CD recording, as well as a "behind the scenes" DVD that shows Lesser discussing the sonatas and provides some excerpts of live recordings. On the CDs, Paik is by far the most brightly shining star. Her playing is both commanding and relaxed, with superb voicing , lucid articulation, sensitive dynamics, and a rich, powerful tone across the range of her instrument. Lesser's playing lacks the same level of precision and evenness as Paik's. There are a significant number of out-of-tune notes, rapid passages sometimes become blurred and indistinct, and tone is not as even. Musically, Lesser's vision for Beethoven is one of exuberance and enthusiasm save for the surprisingly stodgy Allegro molto from the Op. 5/2 sonata. While they're may be recordings available that provide a more balanced technical performance between piano and cello, few can match Paik's masterful execution.

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