Friedrich Kleinhapl / Andreas Woyke

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas

(Super Audio Hybrid CD - Ars Produktion #38035)

Review by

Both the Austrian-German duo of cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl and pianist Andreas Woyke and the apparently audiophile-oriented Hypo Steiermark label are little known, but that may change as a result of this disc. The sound deserves the first mention. No technical data are given, not even a recording location, so even the gear-inclined may have trouble figuring out how it was done, but the label's engineers have created a warm, rich sound that achieves the elusive goal of duplicating on CD the best sonic environments of the LP era. It fits in perfectly with Kleinhapl's 1743 Guadagnini cello, an instrument with an altogether seductive velvety buzz. Sample the opening phrases of the Cello Sonata in A major, Op. 69 (track 5), and you just may be drawn into the entire disc. The sound of the instruments matches the engineering, and the interpretations fit well with the whole picture, as well. This is very Romantic playing for early and middle Beethoven, and those who prefer a restrained Viennese Classical sound in the first two cello sonatas might find Kleinhapl and Woyke a bit much. Woyke, who has played jazz in addition to classical music, takes a flexible approach to the tempo, and the two players have a strong rapport that enables them to take chances. Kleinhapl cites an explicit debt to Friedrich Gulda, and it seems likely that both players have familiarized themselves with the iconoclastic Austrian's Beethoven recordings, and that listeners who enjoy Gulda will also enjoy this disc, with the added benefit of really spectacular sound.

blue highlight denotes track pick