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Reviews: Beethoven: Complete Sonatas & Variations - Wispelwey, Lazic

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Reviews: 6

Review by akiralx June 20, 2005 (11 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Channel Classics have done it again - cards on the table, I would seriously say that in multi-channel this is the best sounding SACD recording I have heard, certainly of chamber music. The sense of presence of the piano and cello is miraculous, perfectly blended. The soundstage is generous, without being too large, and the depth of the sonic picture is excellent. You feel you could just reach out and touch the instruments. Here is a perfect example of how to use the rear channels - no surround-sound gimmickry, just ambience to secure the image, rock solid on the 'stage' in front of the listener.

Performance-wise, this set is wonderful also: after the slow introduction of the first sonata op.5 No.1, the byplay of the instruments leaps energetically out of the speakers as the main Allegro begins. The earlier works are the most accessible if you don't know the sonatas.

Wispelwey hardly needs any introduction - he can lay claim to being the best cellist around in the world today (sample his fabulous CD of the Elgar Concerto), and his playing is stunning, but Lazic matches him in imagination here. Technically these sonatas are tricky for the pianist, and often his virtuosity is breathtaking. The interpretations are exuberant, supremely Beethovenian, occasionally explosively exciting - and I would say there are none finer available today.

I'm going to have to give this 5 for performance and MCH sound, with great pleasure and admiration. One of the best SACD sets I own - just get it!

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Review by nickc August 1, 2005 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I totally agree with Alex below - to me this SACD is as good as it currently gets.
Wispelwey is now recognised as one of the world's premier cellists but the pianist, Dejan Lazic, fully matches him in these fantastic performances. They are fully the equal of Rostropovich/Richter in their classic 1960s performances, and I could think of no higher praise than that.
The sound is absolutely perfect, but be warned, if you don't want the instruments in your living room and would prefer them at the far end of some stage don't apply here!
Instruments themselves are pure and smooth as silk; when the pianist plays his bass notes the room almost rumbles.
For the second or third time in all my reviews I would give this disc a Rosette if we had them!

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Review by seth February 17, 2006 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Here's another home-run for Channel Classics. Once again they've managed to make a highly distinguished recording of repertoire you thought you didn't need another recording of.

The Beethoven Cello Sonatas are quirky pieces. Had the music not been written by Beethoven it probably wouldn't receive as much attention as it does from cellists and listeners. As Wispelwey notes in the insert, what makes the music strange is that it's essentially a collection of fast movements. The movements also lack a sense of unity that Beethoven is renowned for in his symphonies, concertos, piano sonatas and string quartets. What makes Wispelwey and Lazic's performances so successful is that they play the music for what it is; they don't try to sound as introspective and brooding as possible in an attempt to elevate the music to the level of the piano sonatas and string quartets. Their playing is bright and lively, tempos are fast (faster than my period recording by Bylsma & Immerseel), there's lots of dynamic punch, and they're wonderfully brash at times, which all fits the music quite nicely. To further emphasize how much of the music is fast, the slow introductions are given their own tracks. Wispelwey is smartly selective about the vibrato -- there's never too much. Balances between the two musicians are excellent; Lazic's piano is as prominent as possible without offsetting things.

The recorded sound is demo material. The Channel Classics engineers transport the musicians into your listening room. The sound is so vivid and detailed that while listening to the recording I can visualize a close-up of Wispley's bow striking his cello's strings.

While this recording probably won't displace anyone's personal favorite, the performances are fresh enough that this two disc set perfectly compliments any music collection. Highly Recommended.


The price of this set is all over the place; I've seen it for as little as $16 and as much as $50+. So do some research when buying.

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Review by Julien September 10, 2006 (5 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Well, well ! I seem to be the only one here who does not like Mr Wispelwey ! Actually, his style sounds totally inappropriate to me, especially for Beethoven music. One funny thing is that all the great musicians I know say that he is an oustanding cellist, but I never heard anyone say he was a great musician, and I don't even talk about art. I think the same way.
One detail: notice how he always lightens on a climax, which is most of the time something very deep in Beethoven music. Just let the music speak, man ! Instead, you always try to make music sound nice, with a "nice" sound that never really is "in" the string. The result? Beethoven sounds like vacation in Hawaii !
I truly believe that most of the music Mr Wispelwey plays does not speak to him.
So he always wants to make something out of it.
Many great musicians all have different styles, but greats are greats, and even if you don't like the style you don't question that.
This guy is just a cellist who tries to make music sound nice.
Anyway, Channel Classics is helping. Good thing for him, this recording is great !!! Just a little buzz that used to be huge on my Marantz, and nearly disappears on my Cary and with the Power Snakes cables. Otherwise I would give five stars, for all aspects of it.

Last thing, Mr Wispelwey. You know these magic moments when you usually feel that the great Ludwig Van is conversing with the Holy Spirit, those Beethoven moments when the time has stopped ? I could die happy tomorrow after one of these.
Well, you ruined them all.

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Review by krisjan November 3, 2006 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

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Review by wilbur November 4, 2011 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I agree with the glowing reviews here with one minor (or major) caveat, and that has to do with the recording. This is something Channel has acknowledged, and it may or may not bother you. There is an intermittent faint 'buzz' in this recording that comes and goes. Its in the right channels (in SACD predominantly in the rear right channel) and, as I said, it comes and goes. Apparently it was an electronic artifice in the recording process and can't be gotten rid of. It took me a while to really notice it (thus the "minor" caveat above), but having now noticed it I can't ignore it any more (thus the "major"!). the result is that this recording is spoiled for me. Without the buzz perhaps the best Chamber Music recording I have ever heard. With the buzz. . . .

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