Home > Eileen Wingard, Music > New CD captures cello and piano performance true to Beethoven’s genius

New CD captures cello and piano performance true to Beethoven’s genius

By Eileen Wingard

Eileen Wingard

SAN DIEGO–Bridge Records, a new  label, has produced some adventurous recordings. In 2007, the company introduced a collection of songs by Sefan Wolpe (1902-1972), an unheralded genius whose lyrics were in German, Yiddish, Hebrew and English.

There followed other Wolpe albums such as a children’s puppet show tale, Lazy Andy Ant.  Additional Bridge recordings include the live 1947 Carnegie Hall recital of Nadia Reisenberg
the brilliant Israeli pianist.

A recent release is the complete music for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven performed by Laurence Lesser, cello and Haesun Paik, piano.

Lesser, a protege of the great Gregor Piatigorsky, currently heads the Cello Department of the New England Conservatory and has had a formidable career as a solo and chamber music performer as well as being a distinguished educator.

One could not ask for a more capable pianist for Beethoven’s music than the South Korean native, HaeSun Paik.   Not only were the runs articulated like  strings of pearls, but  her carefully calibrated dynamics shaped the phrases into beautifully expressive entities. Since earlier works were titled  for “piano and cello,” where Beethoven himself would perform the piano part, it is essential that these sonatas have the service of fine solo-ability pianists.
Lesser played his 1622 Amati cello with  noble sound and beautiful musicality. The opening Twelve Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Oratorio Judas Maccabeus displayed Lesser’s fine lyrical qualities.

In the Sonatas in A Major, C Major and D Major, he demonstrated  dramatic passion. Particularly impressive was the final fugue of the D major sonata, performed with exultant mastery by both musicians. These cello sonatas by Beethoven helped elevate the cello to its current importance as a solo instrument.
This complete collection of Beethoven’s cello works is a “must have” for all lovers of string music.

Wingard, a former violinist with the San Diego Symphony, is a freelance music reviewer based in San Diego.

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