Before anything else is said, it has to be admitted that the 1963 recording with Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter is beyond all argument the greatest set of Beethoven's cello sonatas ever recorded. Nevertheless, for the single best recording of Beethoven's cello sonata, it should be this 1965 recording by Pierre Fournier and Wilhelm Kempff. Because while Rostropovich and Richter are the greater virtuosos, their virtuosity is also inevitably the prism through which Beethoven's music radiates and his music is colored by their virtuosity.
A must-have for collectors of sublime historical recordings, this re-release of Fournier and Gulda's 1960 recording is equally appropriate for listeners seeking their first recording of Beethoven's works for cello and piano. Fournier's commitment to the exploration of the Beethoven sonatas and variations is clear; he made three complete recordings of the works over the course of his career – the first with Artur Schnabel in 1947, this one with Friedrich Gulda in 1960, and finally with pianist Wilhelm Kempff in 1965.
While only the faithful are likely to try this 17-disc set of violinist David Oistrakh's complete recordings for EMI, they will no doubt fall all over themselves in their rush to get it. How could they not? It contains all the recordings the great Soviet violinist made for EMI: his 1958 and 1969 recordings of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, his 1954 and 1958 recordings of the same composer's violin concerto, his 1956 and 1969 recordings of Brahms' Double Concerto, his 1960 and 1969 recordings of the same composer's violin concerto plus recordings of concertos and sonatas by composers running the gamut from Mozart to Shostakovich.
Most of Sara Sant'Ambrogio's recordings have been as cellist with the Eroica Trio, but she takes on the odd numbers of J.S. Bach's Six Suites for unaccompanied cello in this 2009 solo outing, and it's an ambitious undertaking. This album faces comparisons with several great recordings of the suites, and this young cellist likewise faces scrutiny for playing works associated with such names as Casals, Fournier, and Rostropovich, past masters of the instrument.