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Beethoven’s output for fortepiano and violoncello is fascinating because it covers every period of his career, from early to late, with references to Bach in op.69 and op.102 no.2 and an especially innovative and amazingly modern musical language. For this complete set, which includes the variations on themes from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Nicolas Altstaedt was keen to record on an instrument with gut strings, a Guadagnini from Piacenza dated 1749, and using a Classical bow. Alexander Lonquich, his faithful recital partner – they been inseparable companions since the day Altstaedt replaced his teacher Boris Pergamenschikow for a concert of Beethoven sonatas with Lonquich at the Beethovenfest in Bonn in 2004 – here plays a Graf fortepiano of 1826. The combination of these instruments produces a finely balanced sound and exceptional tone colours. This recording is Nicolas Altstaedt’s first for Alpha as a soloist. Others will follow, in very different genres, for eclecticism is the hallmark of this musician, among the most promising of the new generation.
"I’ve heard few recorded performances of this music (and specifically the sonatas) in which the instrumental sonority seems to inform the interpretations quite so distinctively. Alpha Classics captures the pair in a clear and attractive chamber acoustic. It’s what Altstaedt and Lonquich do with all this sonic potential that fascinates me, and continued to fascinate me as the cycle progressed. The pair are flexible about tempos, with a tendency to accelerate that’s particularly well suited to the theatricality and youthful bravura of the two Op 5 Sonata I found this performance utterly compelling: the mystery and playfulness of the first movement, the mordant Scherzo and the headstrong, joyous sweep of the finale."
"Their focus, however, lies not in style but on the extraordinary places the sounds of their instruments take them and the insights those sounds provide into the composer’s highly subjective, some- times moody, always genius romantic per- sona. e results engrave themselves into the listening experience as if they were inseparable from the notes on the page. "
"Nicolas Altstaedt and his partner Alexander Lonquich get to the bottom of Beethoven because they leave out no accent, no radical overthrow, because they trace the poetic islands - and because the cello and the historical Graf grand piano complement each other in an outstanding way, also thanks to a plastic-direct recording technique. What may seem idyllic or dance-like at first glance often turns out to be a ride on a razor blade. This may sound gaudy and brusque as long as ariose beautiful sound serves as counterpoint. This is exactly the case here. Both soloists understand each other so magnificently that every movement resembles a live cell cure. This is certainly not an arbitrary gift for Beethoven's 250th birthday."
"I don't think it could be any better. Nicolas Altstaedt and Alexander Lonquich interact in a fascinating way, developing exciting dialogues. Altstaedt enchants with his vocal and at the same time pithy tone, Lonquich with his delicacy, his sparkling and gripping play. And the sound of the historical instruments harmonises wonderfully, the cello with the gut strings and a Viennese GRAF grand piano from 1826."
SWR2, NEUE CDs