Cello Sonatas: in F, op. 5/1; in A, op. 69; in D, op.
BjÝrn Solum (vc); Kristin Fossheim (fp) ü 2L ü 2L7 (67:18)
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Rather charmingly, the players here attempt to reproduce the sound Beethoven expected to hear when his cello sonatas were played, while at the same time admitting the difficulty of such a task. After all, they point out, the fortepiano was evolving during Beethovenís lifetime. Nonetheless, the sweet, slightly muffled (to our ears) sound of a copy of a 1790 Walter piano must be closer to the instruments Beethoven heard than a 20th-century Steinway would be. That is no reason to turn away from the great recordings of the past, including my favorite, that of Pierre Fournier with Artur Schnabel, where the perfect balance of the two instruments, the exquisite phrasing, and the convincing forward motion are a result of the musiciansís tact, understanding, and sublime musicality. A phrase played by Fournier, or a Feuermann, for instance, will have a shape, and a purpose in the larger context, that makes the specific sound seem secondary. I donít think it would matter if you took away a little of the Steinway treble from Schnabelís playing.