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His partner Mr Rondin is every bit his equal in these performances, and no less impressive. Bearing witness to his musical erudition and lyrical sensibility is an energic undercurrent that sets fire to virtually every phrase. Mr Rondin's camaraderie extends, too, to his sense of give and take that any substantial collaboration, especially in music as powerful and refined as this, demands. The rustic yet compulsive syncopes that inform the scherzo of the third sonata [listen -- CD2 track 2, 0:01-1:52] are a case in point, driving home as they do the work's intensity. In less capable hands such a flurry of motivic activity can disintegrate into the unintelligible. But in Mr Rondin's every gesture is celebrated for its affective character and assessed for its function, both formal and aesthetic, in the musical trajectory. In other words, this is playing that is as strategic as much as it is vibrant.

This, then, is one of the most satisfying and artistically substantial recordings of the Beethoven cello sonatas to come along in decades. These are exquisitely defined performances, at once intimate and rhetorical, as the music requires. I can think of no better tribute to a composer of Beethoven's stature and vision [listen -- CD2 track 8, 2:54-4:30].

Copyright © 22 February 2004 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA


Ludwig van Beethoven: The sonatas for cello and piano

ISCD-2 (2 CDs) 48'50"/60'00" - TT 108'50" 2003 Isidor Records

Mats Rondin, cello; Hans Pålsson, piano

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Sonata No 1 in F Op 5 No 1; Sonata No 2 in G minor Op 5 No 2; Sonata No 3 in A Op 69; Sonata No 4 in C Op 102 No 1; Sonata No 5 in D Op 102 No 2


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