This release features the complete sonatas and variations for fortepiano and violoncello, recorded on period instruments. In this collaboration, Matt Haimovitz plays his own Goffriller cello, crafted in Venice, Italy in 1710 – outfitted with ox-gut strings also from Italy and an early 19th century rosewood tailpiece and drawn by a Dominique Peccatte bow of the same era, while Christopher O’Riley plays on an original Broadwood fortepiano made in 1823.
Cellist Matt Haimovitz prefaces his period-instrument Beethoven cycle with an absorbing essay. Good engineering also helps, and Pentatone’s vividly resonant production captures the music’s wide dynamic range with clarity and heft.
More significantly, Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley play the living daylights out of these works. They lap up Beethoven’s combative style like hungry lions anticipating raw steak, relishing the composer’s frequent subito dynamics, unpredictable placement of accents and over-the-bar-line phrase groupings.
Terrific performances of the variation sets prove more than merely filler. If you want a HIP counterpart to the Maisky/Argerich cycle, look no further.