Music review: Steven Isserlis & Robert Levin 2

Steven Isserlis
Steven Isserlis
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In the second of their Beethoven concerts, cellist Steven Isserlis and fortepianist Robert Levin turned their attention to the composer’s later works for the two instruments.

Star rating: *****

Venue: Queen’s Hall

Mozart’s rhapsodic duet for Pamina and Papageno from The Magic Flute inspired Beethoven’s lyrical variations while the operatic qualities of the Cello Sonata in G minor Op 5 No 2, were superbly articulated by the duo. Although the work casts the cello as a continuo instrument, the intensity of Isserlis’s interpretation more than evens this out.

It was the final two Op 102 sonatas, written in 1815 when Beethoven totally lost his hearing, that reveal the composer’s extraordinary futuristic vision. The complexity of the extended allegro of No 1 was finely judged ,transporting listeners in the sublime adagio. However, Beethoven surpasses even himself in the elegiac slow movement of No 2 which surely comes from another world. The triumph of the final allegro fugato may have the last word, but it is the poetic stillness of the preceding movement which lingers.

Isserlis and Levin are musical wizards at one with their instruments, which they insisted should also take a bow after this entrancing concert.

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