I would hope this is the first in a pair of discs containing Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, for it would find a place among the most interesting in the catalogue. By opting for recordings taken from concert performances, the Austrian–Belgian cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl is trading off the considerable gain in spontaneity with those moments where suspect intonation would have been rectified in studio sessions
He teamed up with the pianist Andreas Woyke six years ago, and their joint familiarity has produced impeccably weighting tone between instruments, the dynamics never exaggerated but always truthful to the scores. They find much joy in the two early sonatas, with Kleinhapl’s 1743 Giovanni Guadagnini singing eloquently and perfectly matched by Woyke’s cantabile touch.
I love their bouncy approach to the Scherzo of the A major Sonata, though I wish they had cheated and later patched-in passages high on the A string where fingers do not perfectly centre notes in the concert hall. They more than compensate with a very fast final Allegro vivace where the joie de vivre is palpable.
Their faith in the acoustic of the Helmut List Hall in Graz is well rewarded with an immaculately balanced and beautiful sound.