Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley, two fearless musicians who have bonded over common musical passions of wide range and scope, reunite for BEETHOVEN, Period., an illuminating voyage back to the birth of the cello/piano genre with Beethoven’s Sonatas and Variations. Grammy-nominated Matt Haimovitz, praised as a musical visionary in pushing the boundaries of classical music performance, and O’Riley, acclaimed for his engaging and deeply committed performances and known to millions as the host of NPR’s From the Top, turn back the clock to record for the first time on period instruments – Haimovitz’ Venetian Matteo Gofriller cello of 1710 set up with gut strings and an early 19th century tailpiece, and O’Riley with an 1823 original Broadwood fortepiano. The new recording on 2 SACDs is available internationally on February 1, 2015 on the PENTATONE Oxingale Series.
Having shared ideas and projects for some time, there was no doubt for PENTATONE to join forces with OXINGALE RECORDS. This is a union of two innovative and devoted recording companies with a long history of producing reputable records and collaborating with esteemed artists. Delivered in PENTATONE’s signature warm, dynamic and detailed sound, this recording gives an opportunity for a straight encounter with the power of the rich interaction between the two instruments in surround sound on super audio CD and as a high definition download.
For Haimovitz and O’Riley, there is no more fascinating, influential, and documented figure than Beethoven. And, centuries before the duo blurred the lines between Radiohead and Stravinsky – as in their acclaimed Shuffle.Play.Listen for the Oxingale label – Beethoven had already embraced vernaculars within his music, using popular themes of the day by Mozart and Handel in his Variations. Returning to the cello and piano over three important periods in his career – early, middle, and late – Beethoven reveals his innermost struggles and triumphs as he marries the two disparate instruments, fearlessly unshackling the cello from its continuo origins, and confronting the challenges of its low voice in relation to the piano’s polyphony. Within a twenty- year period, Beethoven singlehandedly created and immortalized the genre.
Extensive liner notes by Matt Haimovitz explore further details and insights into the Sonatas and Variations – Opus 5 and 6, Opus 69, and the Opus 102 Sonatas, completed exactly 200 years ago, in 1815. Also in the notes, William Meredith, Director of The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, and Executive Director of The American Beethoven Society, discusses the 1823 Broadwood fortepiano used in the recording.
“Each time I approach Beethoven’s Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Cello is a life-affirming milestone,” says Haimovitz, who wrote his undergraduate thesis on the Beethoven Sonatas at Harvard University twenty years ago, “To grapple with the composer’s uncompromising vision, and his ideal of equality and balance. Yet, nothing could have prepared me and Chris for the revelation of exploring these works using period instruments. With this setup, the fact that the cello can easily overpower its partner changes everything. Suddenly, the consideration is no longer “how can the cello cut through the multi-voiced powerhouse of a concert grand piano,” but “how can it make room for the nuances of the 19th century fortepiano?”
For his part, O’Riley, who has recorded extensively on a variety of instruments, was amazed by the problem-free 1823 fortepiano: “It was exceedingly unexpected and astonishing to find that this nearly 200-year old instrument was in such immaculate condition. I’d place this in my Top Five instruments I’ve ever played.”
Finding the ideal tuning was also revelatory. While there were a variety of tunings in use in Beethoven’s Vienna, Matt and Chris found that their instruments resonated ideally at A=430, a microtone lower than the modern A=440 and higher than the Baroque A=415. “I think we all vibrate a little better at that pitch,” says O’Riley.
Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in F major, Op. 5, Nr. 1
1. I Adagio sostenuto
2. I Allegro
3. II Rondo: Allegro vivace
4. 12 Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” for Cello and Piano, Op. 66
Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in G Minor, Op. 5, Nr. 2
5. I Adagio sostenuto ed espressivo
6. I Allegro molto più tosto presto
7. II Rondo: Allegro
8. 12 Variations on “See the conquering hero comes” for Cello and Piano, WoO 45
Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in A Major, Op.69
1. I Allegro ma non tanto
2. II Scherzo: Allegro molto
3. III Adagio cantabile
4. III Allegro vivace
5. Variations on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen”, for Cello and Piano, WoO 46
Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in C Major, Op.102, Nr.1
6. I Andante
7. I Vivace
8. II Adagio
9. II Allegro vivace
Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello in D Major, Op.102, Nr.2
10. I Allegro con brio
11. II Adagio con molto sentimento d’afeto
12. III Allegro fugato