BEETHOVEN: CELLO & PIANOComplete Works for Cello and Piano
Ludwig van Beethoven
COLIN CARR, cello
THOMAS SAUER, piano
“As life goes on our collective tastes can change. I have two versions of Beethoven's Music for Cello and Piano... One is by Pablo Casals, the other by Mstislav Rostropovich. Both are excellent, yet in emotional terms, especially the Casals, they have a certain expressive quality that impresses but perhaps does not shed a balanced light on the beauty of these seminal Beethoven compositions. So when I heard a recent version by Colin Carr and Thomas Sauer, I found myself highly satisfied with the middle-ground the duo occupy. They are expressive as the music demands, very much so, and there is power and motility in their interpretations. But they are never emotionally over-the-top, though clearly they are excellent players.... Carr and Sauer give us a contemporary balance that wears well today, an everyday-workaday yet brilliant set of readings that puts everything into focus. Here's a gem.”
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical Review [May 2014]
“[In the Sonata in C] Creative dynamic shading, convincing transitions between characters, and, above all, conversation become an integral part of the interpretive fabric. The introductory passage of the second movement is especially successful in this respect. Fluctuating between meditation and intense drama, the music holds the listener at the edge of their seat… These same features find a most impressive iteration in the closing fugato from Beethoven's Sonata in D. Sauer and Carr transform this light contrapuntal finale into a tapestry of infinite colors, creating for the listener a kaleidoscopic journey throughout which Beethoven's notes jump off the page… With their musical personalities fully and convincingly established, the duo wraps up their Beethoven project with a true gem… Beethoven's variations on 'Bei Männern' from Mozart's The Magic Flute showcases the full gamut of their performative strengths… Sauer and Carr give us much to enjoy.”
Andrew Schartmann, Music & Vision [March 2014]
“any new version [of these works] would have to be very special to overcome my reservations. I am therefore pleased to report that this new Carr-Sauer set is special indeed, and it goes right to the top of my favorites list. Here are my reasons: Carr’s cello sings with a tone of incomparable sweetness and evenness across its entire range. Not once in any of the rapid passage work, forte attacks, leaning into sforzandos, or reaching for high notes up on the instrument’s A string is there a hint of stress, forced sound, or the pinched, nasal quality that can turn the cello’s tone unpleasant. Carr’s playing, in a word, is elegant. Yet it lacks nothing in spirited liveliness where Beethoven calls for bounce, or deeply felt emotion where the music calls for heightened drama and passion… Sauer, who has previously partnered with Carr in Mendelssohn’s complete works for cello and piano, has the touch of a true chamber musician; and that’s another aspect of these performances that makes them special. The two players engage each other in a musical dialog of perfect reciprocity and balance. Theirs is a conversation between equals, which elucidates the ingenuity of Beethoven’s linkage of the two instruments in ways that no composer before him had attempted for cello and piano… MSR’s recording plays no small part in the ideal positioning of Carr and Sauer and in assuring an exemplary aural perspective. I realize it may be a hard sell to convince you to acquire this release if you already have more than one set of Beethoven’s cello works on your shelf, but all I can do is repeat what I said above: this one is special, and I’m confident that it won’t disappoint. Very strongly recommended.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [January/February 2014]
“Carr and Sauer play these great works with warmth and fine ensemble. These are performances…played with dramatic understanding… The recorded balance is excellent...”
Moore, American Record Guide [November/December 2013]
“The temptation when playing Beethoven is to confuse richness with density, and intensity with ponderousness. It is one of the best things about this recording that neither cellist Colin Carr nor pianist Thomas Sauer makes that mistake: this complete collection of Beethoven’s sonatas and thematic variations for the two instruments reveals all the richness and intensity of Beethoven’s music without imposing any ponderous density on it. The gorgeous, dark-hued tone of Carr’s instrument is particularly noteworthy.”
Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist for Libraries [October 2013]
“Their style is free of turgidity, their technique unblemished. Thomas Sauer and Colin Carr are a secure duo, and Beethoven’s command over a tricky medium is theirs, too. Lines are clean and recorded balance is very good. Sauer and Carr offer many virtues…”
Nalen Anthoni, Gramophone [October 2013]
“Carr plays with an exceptionally smooth sound, one of he smoothest on record, and that element of his tonal quality seems to set the stage for the overall feeling of the interpretations as a whole. He is not obsessed with overplaying the dramatic elements or any sort of overly-emotive representation of Beethoven’s subtle and sometimes gossamer melodic filigree. This is not to say that power is lacking, only that he is content to allow Beethoven’s muscularity sufficient to the cause at hand without overplaying his hand. Sauer also understands this and partners Carr with exceptional understanding and support. The sound is burnished and analog-like with fine digital clarity and spaciousness.”
[ * * * * ] Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [August 2013]
PROGRAM NOTESTo hear his Five Sonatas for Cello and Piano is to take a statistical sample of Beethoven’s work. Although the sample is smaller than those provided by his other career-spanning genres—piano sonata, string quartet, and symphony—it is nonetheless rich in data, and these reveal themselves quickly: an hour and fifty minutes suffice to present Beethoven as willful heir to Mozart (Op. 5); as
self-possessed man of the Enlightenment (Op. 69); and as path-breaking prophet (Op. 102). The three sets of variations heard here, by contrast, present a narrower, more topical view of a composer ready to charm and entertain.
Cellist Colin Carr appears throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and teacher. He has played with major orchestras worldwide, including the Royal Concertgebouw; Philharmonia; Royal Philharmonic; BBC Symphony; orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, Philadelphia, Montréal and Toronto; and all the major orchestras of Australia and New Zealand. Conductors with whom he has worked include Rattle, Gergiev, Dutoit, Elder, Skrowaczewski and Marriner. He has been a regular guest at the BBC Proms, twice toured Australia, and has also played with orchestras in Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico and Venezuela.
Chamber music plays an important role in Carr’s musical life. After leaving the Yehudi Menuhin School, he played many concerts with Yehudi and Jeremy Menuhin; at the Marlboro Festival with Rudolf Serkin and Felix Galimir; at the Gstaad Festival with Alberto Lysy; and at Prussia Cove in Cornwall. Carr has been a frequent guest of the Guarneri and Emerson String Quartets, and with Emerson recorded Tchaikovsky and Schoenberg Sextets. With duo partner Thomas Sauer, he has played recitals at the Concertgebouw, Philadelphia’s Chamber Music Society, the Gardner Museum in Boston and several times at Wigmore Hall. He has performed J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites in cities around the world.
Active as a recording artist, Carr has released acclaimed recordings of the Bach Cello Suites and the unaccompanied cello works of Kodaly, Britten, Crumb and Schuller on GM. He has also made recordings of the complete cello and piano works of Mendelssohn with Thomas Sauer, Brahms Sonatas with Lee Luvisi on Arabesque, the Bach Suites on Wigmore Live, and as soloist in Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic for a BBC Music Magazine recording. As a member of the Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio for more than 20 years, Carr recorded the trios of Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, Faure, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Smetena and Tchaikovsky. Carr is the winner of many prestigious international awards, including Young Concert Artists, First Prize in the Naumburg Competition, the Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Award and Second Prize in the Rostropovich International Cello Competition.
Carr began playing cello at age five, and three years later went to the Yehudi Menuhin School, where he studied with Maurice Gendron and William Pleeth. He was on the faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston for 16 years, and in 1998 became a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. In the same year, St. John’s College, Oxford, created the post “Musician in Residence” for him, and in September 2002 he became a professor at Stony Brook University in New York.
Pianist Thomas Sauer is highly sought after as soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. His recent appearances include concerto performances with the Quad-City and Tallahassee Symphonies and the Greenwich Village Orchestra; solo performances in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, Merkin
Concert Hall, Rockefeller University, and St. John’s College, Oxford; appearances on Broadway as the pianist in 33 Variations (a play about the composition of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations); and performances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. With duo partner Colin Carr, Sauer has appeared at Wigmore Hall, Holywell Music Room
(Oxford), Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Musikgebouw, Bargemusic (in New York), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), and at Princeton University, among other venues. Other appearances include recitals with Midori at the Philharmonie in Berlin and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels; performances with members of the Juilliard String Quartet at the Library of Congress; and numerous concerts with the Brentano String Quartet.
Thomas Sauer has performed at many of the leading festivals in the United States and abroad, including Marlboro, Caramoor, Music@Menlo, Chamber Music Northwest, El Paso Pro Musica, and the Chamber Music Festivals of Seattle, Taos, Four Seasons (North Carolina), Portland and Salt Bay (Maine); as well as Lake District Summer Music (England) and Festival des Consonances (France).
Sauer’s varied discography includes recordings of Beethoven and Haydn for MSR; complete cello and piano works of Mendelssohn with Colin Carr on Cello Classics; Hindemith sonatas with violist Misha Amory on Musical Heritage; Britten and Schnittke with cellist Wilhelmina Smith on Arabesque; works of Ross Lee Finney with violinist Miranda Cuckson on Centaur; and violin sonatas of Mozart with Aaron Berofsky on Blue Griffin. In recent seasons, Sauer has premiered works by Philippe
Bodin, Robert Cuckson, Sebastian Currier, Keith Fitch, David Loeb, Donald Martino, David Tcimpidis and Richard Wilson.
A member of the music faculty of Vassar College and the piano faculty of the Mannes College, Sauer is the founder and director of the Mannes Beethoven Institute, and was co-founder of Chamber Music Quad Cities. A graduate of the Curtis Institute, Mannes College of Music and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, his major teachers included Jorge Bolet, Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter.
PROGRAMLUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
COMPLETE WORKS FOR CELLO AND PIANO
SONATA IN F MAJOR, OP. 5, NO. 1 (1796)
Adagio sostenuto - Allegro
Rondo: Allegro vivace
SONATA IN G MINOR, OP. 5, NO. 2 (1796)
Adagio sostenuto e espressivo -
Allegro molto più tosto presto
SONATA IN A MAJOR, OP. 69 (1807/08)
Allegro ma non tanto
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Adagio cantabile - Allegro vivace
SONATA IN C MAJOR, OP. 102, NO. 1 (1815)
Andante - Allegro vivace
Adagio - Tempo andante; Allegro vivace
SONATA IN D MAJOR, OP. 102, NO. 2 (1815)
Allegro con brio
Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto
Allegro - Allegro fugato
12 VARIATIONS ON A THEME FROM HANDEL’S ORATORIO JUDAS MACCABEUS, WOO 45 (1796)
12 VARIATIONS ON THE THEME “EIN MÄDCHEN ODER WEIBCHEN” FROM MOZART’S OPERA DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, OP. 66 (1796)
7 VARIATIONS ON THE THEME “BEI MÄNNERN, WELCHE LIEBE FÜHLEN” FROM MOZART’S OPERA DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, WOO 46 (1801)