Esther Nyffenegger / Gerard Wyss

Beethoven: Complete Works for Cello and Piano

(CD - Divox #CDX25212/3)

Review by

A student of Casals, among others, cellist Esther Nyffenegger went on to win numerous awards throughout Europe, began teaching (most notably at a post at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts), and produced several recordings. This Divox two-disc set makes up a 2004 reissue of Nyffenegger's 1975 complete Beethoven cycle with pianist Gerard Wyss. Nyffenegger's playing can be described as carefree and spontaneous, attributes that can work with Beethoven to be sure. From the grandeur of the A major Sonata to the urgent insistence of the G minor Sonata, Nyffenegger captures the mood and character of Beethoven's writing. That same spontaneity can be a drawback, as well; intonation is not as spotless as it could or should be, some shifts are a bit careless, and tone production is not always consistent across the range of the instrument and from string to string. Although digitally remastered from the 1975 originals, the overall sound quality is somewhat flat and dull, particularly in the middle and lower range of the piano. All of this makes for a set that may be interesting historically, or for followers of Nyffenegger's playing, but is not a great choice for listeners who are just looking for their first, authoritative performances of these magnificent sonatas.

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