Thursday 20 May 2021

Beethoven complete cello sonatas from Ailbhe McDonagh and John O'Conor

Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh and pianist John O'Conor celebrated Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year with a double album of his complete sonatas for cello and piano recorded at St. Peter’s Church, Drogheda, Ireland. The set has been released is on the Steinway & Sons music label.

Beethoven's five cello sonatas are remarkable because they span his whole career. The two sonatas of Op. 5 come from his early Viennese years, though they were written for a visit to the Prussian court in Berln and still give prominence to the piano. The great A Major Sonata (Op. 69) is the single representative of his incredible middle period, and shows Beethoven re-inventing the form and giving both instruments equal prominence, whilst the two Op. 102 sonatas epitomize his late works. 

Ailbhe McDonagh and John O'Conor have made a short documentary about the project, which is one of those which might not have happened if last year's events hadn't cleared their diaries. O'Conor is known for his performances of Beethoven, but had not recorded the Cello Sonatas before, whilst he has a long connection with Ailbhe McDonagh having taught her piano.

You can hear a movement of the third sonata on YouTube, and listen to the album here:  Spotify | Apple Music | YouTube

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