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Beethoven: Complete Music for Piano and Violoncello
Ludwig van Beethoven, András Schiff, Miklos Perenyi
Beethoven: Complete Music for Piano and Violoncello
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #2

Here's a version of the Beethoven Cello Sonatas as good as any in the catalogue, despite those by starry performers who have recorded them over the years. Perényi and Schiff play with rhythmic accuracy and drive, wide dyna...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Ludwig van Beethoven, András Schiff, Miklos Perenyi
Title: Beethoven: Complete Music for Piano and Violoncello
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: ECM Records
Release Date: 9/28/2004
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Instruments, Strings
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 028947240129

Here's a version of the Beethoven Cello Sonatas as good as any in the catalogue, despite those by starry performers who have recorded them over the years. Perényi and Schiff play with rhythmic accuracy and drive, wide dynamic range, virtuoso flair, and, best of all, an improvisatory quality that brings out the strengths of these works. The first two early sonatas can seem slight, but here are full of humor and forward impetus. The Op. 69, a work of unsettling mood shifts and gorgeous melodies, is done with the passion it requires, and the duo plumbs the depths of final Op. 105 pair. The cello transcription of the Op. 17 Horn Sonata, a slighter work, is increased in stature thanks to the artists' conviction. And the sets of variations on themes by Handel and Mozart come off as more than simply salon music. Schiff's keyboard mastery, with clean runs and crisp rhythms, is a big plus, and Perényi matches him all the way, his lean tone easily conveying the coloristic subtleties that make the scores come alive. --Dan Davis

CD Reviews

A nice set that breaks no new ground and entertains
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 05/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This new contribution to the Beethoven piano-cello diskography is a worthy entrant by a couple Hungarians widely known in classical music circles. Andras Schiff needs no introduction for any piano afficianado and Miklos Perenyi is a first rate cellist who may not have as many recordings as the average big name cellist.

Perenyi (appparently pronounced pear-Yen-skyi) -- who was a student of Casals -- first came to my attention in a film about the life of Franz Josef Haydn. The film followed Haydn's life in the Esterhazy years and featured many performances by the Austro-Hungarian Symphony and soloists including Perenyi, who was filmed playing the finale of one of the cello concertos.

That led me to purchase Perenyi's version of the two Haydn concertos, which was then available on the ultra-cheap Laserlight label. His performances were remarkable and compared to any current or past player. The work of the Franz Lizst Chamber Orchestra that supported him was scrappy but did nothing to diminish his outstanding playing. Perenyi also recorded the Beethoven cello-piano sonatas once previously on the Hungaraton label.

Perenyi's playing is virtuosic, concentrated and distinguished by many of the same behaviors as Rostropovich -- the bottom lip stuck out, eyes closed, chin and nose up with mind intensely focused on the musical messaging. This type of playing is quite a contrast to classical pop star Yo Yo Ma, who smiles all the way through every performance maintaining eye contact with the audience.

Imagine my surprise when I found Perenyi's playing to be much friendlier and more intimate in this music, which is rarely identified with intimacy even though it is chamber music for two players. Schiff is a rhapsodic partner, for the most part, acting as romantic foil to Perenyi's straight man in this collection, which alleges to be all of Beethoven's music for this combination of instruments.

I have owned a fair number of sets of this music over the years including a couple of the critics' and public's favorites -- the Richter-Rostropovich collaboartion on Philips and the period set by Jos van Immerseel and Anner Bylsma. The latter has probably been my favorite among all the integral sets I've owned. This set includes more music than any of those.

One significant downside to this production is its packaging. There are notes in several langauges that talk about the performers and the music. But for the first time in my experience collecting classical LPs, reel to reel tapes, cassettes and CDs, there is not a single track listing -- or listing of the order of the music of any kind -- on the outside of the box.

There is a track listing of all the music on a couple inside facing pages of the booklet but it is organized differently than anything I've ever seen in this music. And there is no listing on those pages of which music is on which disk, putting a beginner buying this music at something of a disadvantage.

This may be insignificant but it's also inconvenient, especially if you are listening to the music in the car. I cannot remember a single cassette or CD I've ever owned that I played in the car where I ran into this issue.

There's also not much to be said for the artistry on display in this package, which is remarkably similar to the Beatles "white" album. There are a lot of white pages with text but no art or photography. The cover art appears to be some brown clouds floating by the sea of white. I've never judged the book by its cover but this is quite a departure from the norm in full priced classical music.

Aside from these blemishes, this is a highly muscial and respectable offering that is shipshape is all respects. It is very worthy of your attention if you seek this collection or if you enjoy these performers.

I read a critic who said this music has no agenda, meaning it is played straight and without undue personal affectation (take that, Richter and Rostropovich!) So if you like players that are also highly personal interpreters, you may find this set a bit straight laced. Everyone else should enjoy it."
Pleasant surprise
J. Grant | North Carolina, USA | 01/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have both of Fournier's versions (with Gulda & with Kempff), and the Richter/Rostropovich, all of which I loved and listened to quite often. However, since aquiring this set, I find myself going to it rather more than the others. Believe me, I'm extremely but pleasantly surprised by how good this set is. I had never heard of Perenyi, and Schiff has never been my favorite pianist, but these guys sound as if they have been playing together forever. Whatever you may think of the highly acclaimed sets above, this one deserves to be heard."
Expressive and Tuneful
Karl W. Nehring | Ostrander, OH USA | 07/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When I first got really interested in classical music as an undergraduate fresh out of 4.5 years in the Army, I was married, had two kids, and supported the family on my GI Bill payments and mopping floors at a grocery store. Money was tight, but I could not resist buying records when I found a good sale, and one of the recordings I found cheap was (I think) an old Columbia Odyssey recording of the Beethoven cello sonatas. I seem to recall that it was a dated monaural recording, and I can't remember the artists, but I remember enjoying the music.

Three decades later, when I first auditioned this recording, it was my three youngest (of seven) children who were undergraduates. Money was still tight (thank goodness the older two daughters both graduated that summer), and I rediscovered this wonderful music, this time in beautiful, spacious sound from an ECM CD featuring András Schiff on piano and Miklós Perényi on cello. I'm pretty sure the old Odyssey release was a 2-LP set; it is amazing that this little CD can contain not only the six sonatas, but also three sets of variations that Beethoven composed for piano and cello.

This is spellbinding music, expressive and tuneful. Both the performance and the recording seem treat the piano and cello as equal partners; this is not just music for cello with piano accompaniment. If you are getting into classical music, enjoy the Beethoven symphonies and concertos, and would like to try something else, but are maybe a bit daunted by the string quartets (don't be!), you might want to give this fine ECM recording a try. It is really a treasure."