Before anything else is said, it has to be admitted that the 1963 recording with Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter is beyond all argument the greatest set of Beethoven's cello sonatas ever recorded. Nevertheless, for the single best recording of Beethoven's cello sonata, it should be this 1965 recording by Pierre Fournier and Wilhelm Kempff. Because while Rostropovich and Richter are the greater virtuosos, their virtuosity is also inevitably the prism through which Beethoven's music radiates and his music is colored by their virtuosity. But Fournier and Kempff are arguably the greater musicians because they are not so much the prism as the lens through which Beethoven's music flows, and his music is ineluctably clarified by their musicianship.
When one hears the ardent objectivity of their Sonatas, Op. 5; the dramatic lyricism of their Sonata, Op.
69; the exhilarating serenity of their Sonatas, Op. 102; the serious fun of their Mozart Variations; or the playful strength of their Handel Variations, one is hearing less of Fournier and Kempff and more of Beethoven. The consummate musicianship renders their playing translucent, letting the clear light of Beethoven's music shine through. As great as Rostropovich and Richter are -- and they are very, very, very great -- it is Fournier and Kempff who contain more of Beethoven because they includes less of themselves.
|Sonata for cello & piano No. 1 in F major, Op. 5/1|
|Adagio sostenuto - Allegro||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||14:31|
|Rondo, Allegro vivace||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||7:08|
|Sonata for cello & piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5/2|
|Adagio sostenuto ed espressivo||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||13:00|
|Rondo, Allegro||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||8:49|
|Sonata for cello & piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69|
|Allegro ma non tanto||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||9:10|
|Scherzo, Allegro molto||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||5:36|
|Adagio cantabile - Allegro vivace||Pierre Fournier / Wilhelm Kempff||7:06|