CBC Music: First Play: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley; Beethoven, Period.

January 26, 2015

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In 2011, a pair of musical iconoclasts brought us Shuffle.Play.Listen, a deliberately scattershot collection of folk, movie music, 20th-century chamber music and indie rock — all performed on cello and piano.

For their second recorded collaboration, that pair — cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley — has run as far as possible in the opposite direction. On this new disc, the duo has returned to the roots of classical performance. Haimovitz and O’Riley play the first movement of a piece, then they play the second, and if applicable they play the third. Then, they move on to the next piece. No shuffling. No new arrangements. No indie rock.

And the repertoire? Beethoven. As standard as you can possibly get. One gets the feeling that Haimovitz and O’Riley are making a statement here. Perhaps Haimovitz’s liner notes might provide us with a clue: “To this day, two hundred years after the fact, these late sonatas sound and feel like modern music.” No gimmicks required.

And yet, there’s still novelty here. Haimovitz and O’Riley have chosen to present this music on period instruments, thus the album’s title:Beethoven, Period. By now, we’re used to hearing baroque and Renaissance music on the instruments of those periods, but hearing Beethoven’s chamber music performed on a fortepiano from 1823 and a cello from 1710 is a fascinating experience.

So, here for you to gorge on are Beethoven’s complete cello sonatas and variations, beautifully played as they were originally intended. Period.


Disc 1

Cello Sonata No. 1 in F major
1. Adagio sostenuto
2. Allegro
3. Rondo. Allegro vivace

4. 12 Variations on ‘See the Conquering hero comes’ from Handel’sJudas Maccabaeus

Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor
5. Adagio sostenuto e espressivo
6. Allegro molto più tosto presto
7. Rondo. Allegro

8. 12 Variations on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte

Disc 2

Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major
1. Allegro ma non tanto
2. Scherzo. Allegro molto
3. Adagio cantabile
4. Allegro vivace

5. 7 Variations on ‘Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte

Cello Sonata No. 4 in C major
6. Andante
7. Allegro vivace
8. Adagio. Tempo d’Andante
9. Allegro vivace

Cello Sonata No. 5 in D major
10. Allegro con brio
11. Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto
12. Allegro fugato

Pre-order Beethoven, Period. on iTunes.



By: Matthew Parsons

Read and listen on: CBC Music


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