Xiang Yu & Sietse-Jan Weijenberg & Julio Elizalde

One of the great unsolved intrigues surrounding Beethoven concerns three letters. Found in the back of a drawer after his passing, they are addressed to an unnamed “Immortal Beloved”. It is questionable if they were ever sent (since they were still in Beethoven’s possession), but as to the sincerity of its contents there is no doubt. The letters are filled with romantic hyperbole, but even while they are not quite literary masterpieces they are written well enough and manage to avoid falling into cheesy cliché. The letters have generated a stream of articles in which scholars fret endlessly over the scarce clues (a date, Monday July 6th, that could only have been 1801, 1807 or 1812, and the mention of a town with the letter K: Karlsbad? Klosterneuberg? Korompa?). Understandably, the list of potential candidates runs long.

The thing is that Beethoven had a complicated rapport with romance all his life. He was never a beauty – short, protruding teeth, a small round nose, a wild unkempt crop of hair, and of questionable hygiene. But more decisively, he was in the habit of fancying women that were socially and financially well out of his reach, or who were married. This resulted in endless falling in and out of love, but there is no evidence that his efforts were ever crowned with physical success. Scholars also note that married life would have been detrimental to his creative process, and that Beethoven might well have unconsciously set his sights too high in order to avoid any concrete engagement.

Going back to the “Immortal Beloved”, one of the numerous names that pops up in the above mentioned articles is that of Hungarian countess Marie von Erdödy. She was a separated woman, and had a long and intimate friendship with Beethoven. She is also the dedicatee of the trio’s op.70, and the work currently at hand, the cello sonatas op.102 (1&2).

The sonatas were written in spring and late summer 1815 during Beethoven’s stay at the Erdödy estate. Beethoven was inspired by the presence of Razumovsky’s star cellist Josef Linke. The two had already enjoyed a long professional collaboration, and Linke happened to be posted with Erdödy that summer because the Razumovsky castle had burned down.

1815 marks the beginning of the late period in Beethoven’s writing. Works from that time on are typically focused, condensed, meditative, abstract, extreme, sublime and grotesque – keywords that go well with the most important output of that year, the two cello sonatas op.102. The number two present in this recording is the first sonata to feature a full slow movement, a haunting Adagio. The ensuing Fugue is also a first, starting with an innocent rising figure but developing into an insane exploration of the extreme. The most ‘standard’ movement is the opening Allegro con brio, which is a sonata form, except more condensed then ever before. Bits of thematic material are broken off, interrupted, reused and interjected. Written as early as 1815 this sonata casts a glance ahead all the way to the most elaborate late quartets.
Sietse-Jan Weijenberg 2015

Beethoven Piano Trio No. 6 Op.97 (Archduke)
(coming soon!)

Angelo Xiang Yu
Winner of the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in 2010, violinist Angelo Xiang Yu is regarded as one of today’s most talented and creative young violinists in the world. His astonishing technique, distinctive sound, and exceptional musicality have won him consistent critical acclaim (the Strad, String magazine, Boston Globe) and enthusiastic audience response worldwide for his solo recitals, orchestral engagements, and chamber music performances.

In addition to winning the Menuhin Competition, including the Bach Prize and Audience prize, Mr. Yu also won 2nd prize in the Wieniawski International Violin Competition (2006) as the youngest prize winner; 3rd prize in the Michael Hill International Violin Competition (2011); 2nd prize and the Best Commissioned Work Prize in the 25th Irving M. Klein International String Competition; and 1st prize and the Best Chamber Music Performance prize of the Baden-Württemberg International Music Competition (2005).

In 2011-12 season, Mr.Yu made his debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, captivating audiences with playing that combines passion and purity of interpretation. He also appeared as a soloist with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Trondheim Soloists, and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. The highlight of his current season includes his Prokofiev Violin Concerto with Hugh Wolff in Boston Symphony Hall, and debut with the Houston Symphony.

As an active recitalist, Mr. Yu has performed in venues throughout the world, including Konzerthaus Berlin (Germany), Shanghai Grand Theatre, National Center For The Performing Arts (China), Wienawski Hall (Poland), the Grand Theatre of Calgary (Canada), Victoria Concert Hall (Singapore), Oslo Opera House & Troldsalen Bergen (Norway), Auckland Town Hall (New Zealand), Louvre Museum Auditorium (France), Bennett-Gordon Hall, Heinz Hall, and Jordan Hall (USA).

Mr. Yu is also an enthusiastic chamber musician. Since the age of fourteen, he has regularly performed in chamber music concerts in China with repertoire ranging from Joseph Haydn to Alfred Schnittke. His Xiang Quartet not only won the 1st prize in the Bode Cup Chamber Music Competition, but also premiered many contemporary chamber music masterpieces in China, including Ullmann’sString Quartet No.3 and Hartmann’s String Quartet No.1. He has been invited to numerous world-renowned summer festivals such as Verbier Academy (Switzerland), Yellow Barn Festival (USA), Bergen Festival (Norway),Kronberg Academy Masterclass (Germany), Perlman Chamber Music Program (USA), Morningside Music Bridge (Canada), and the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival (USA). He has collaborated with such artists as Kim Kashkashian, Ivry Gitlis, Walter Levin, Ana Chumachenco, Mihaela Martin, Pamela Frank, Paul Katz, Ida Kavafian, Igor Ozim, Frans Helmerson, and Christian Tetzlaff.

Mr. Yu has recently been featured as the Artist in Residence on the Performance Today show, which is syndicated by American Public Media and broadcast nationally. In addition, he has been invited to give live performances and interviews in both Drive Time Live at WGBH and On Pointat WBUR.

Born in Inner Mongolia, Angelo Xiang Yu moved to Shanghai at the age of 11 and received his early training from violinist Qing Zheng at the Shanghai Conservatory. A recipient of the Irene M. Stare Scholarship in Violin, a full scholarshipand Merit Award at NEC, Xiang is a candidate for NEC’s Artist Diploma as the only instrumentalist in the prestigious program. He is currently working with Donald Weilerstein and Kim Kashkashian and serves as the teaching assistant for Donald Weilerstein.

Sietse-Jan Weijenberg
Sietse-Jan Weijenberg studied with Jan Ype Nota at the Groningen Conservatory, the Netherlands, and Michel Strauss at the CNSM of Paris, while taking masterclasses with Richard Aaron, Janos Starker, Natalia Gutman and others. Sietse-Jan is a laureate of many competitions, most recently taking a top prize at the 2009 Rostropovich Competition. Since 2010 Sietse-Jan performs as principal cellist at the Residentieorkest, The Hague. Also successful as a chamber musician, his trio won first prize at the Maria Canals Piano Trio competition 2009. He is a regular guest of international festivals like the Peter the Great Festival, the festival Musique à Giverny, the Storioni Festival or the Kuhmo Festival. He appears frequently as a soloist, having performed concertante works by Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Dvorak and Vivaldi with orchestras in Holland, France, Spain and in Taïwan. In 2011 Sietse-Jan made an extensive tour around Holland and to Poland with the Elgar Concerto, accompanied by the Netherlands Student Orchestra. Sietse-Jan plays the ex-Starker Joseph Guarneri cello (1707), on generous loan by an anonymous patron.

Julio Elizalde

Praised as a musician of “compelling artistry and power” by the Seattle Times, the gifted American pianist Julio Elizalde is one of the most sought-after and multi-faceted artists of his generation. He has performed in many of the major music centers throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America to popular and critical acclaim. The summer of 2014 marks his third season as Co-Artistic Director of the Olympic Music Festival near Seattle, Washington.

Mr. Elizalde has appeared with many of the leading artists of our time. He regularly appears as recital partner to world renowned violinists Sarah Chang and Ray Chen. In 2013, Ms. Chang and Mr. Elizalde performed at an event in New York City honoring the first official visit of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. In the same year, he performed the complete cello sonatas by Beethoven in one concert with distinguished cellist Bonnie Hampton at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Mr. Elizalde has performed under the baton of Itzhak Perlman, Teddy Abrams, and Anne Manson. He has collaborated with artists such as Pamela Frank, Osvaldo Golijov, Stephen Hough, William Sharp, and members of the Juilliard, Cleveland, Kronos, and Brentano string quartets.

Mr. Elizalde is a member of the New Trio, with violinist Andrew Wan, co-concertmaster of L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Patrick Jee, cellist of the New York Philharmonic. The New Trio was the winner of both the Fischoff and Coleman National Chamber Music Competitions and is the recipient of the Harvard Musical Association’s prestigious Arthur W. Foote Prize. As part of the New Trio, Mr. Elizalde has performed for leading American politicians such as President Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Kissinger, and the late senator Ted Kennedy. He was a featured performer for the soundtrack of the 2013 film Jimmy P, composed by Academy Award-winner, Howard Shore.

Mr. Elizalde is a passionately active educator, having recently served as a Visiting Professor of piano at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Since 2011, he has been a member of the faculty at the Manchester Music Festival in Vermont and has given masterclasses at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Lawrence University, and the Institute of Music of Chicago. He has also appeared at various summer music festivals including Yellow Barn, Taos, Caramoor, Bowdoin, Kneisel Hall, and the Music Academy of the West. Mr. Elizalde was a juror for the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition held at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Elizalde received a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Paul Hersh. He holds Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Juilliard School in New York City, where he studied with Jerome Lowenthal, Joseph Kalichstein, and Robert McDonald.

Mr. Elizalde performs with the assistance of an Apple iPad Air, forScore music reading software, and a bluetooth wireless foot pedal made by AirTurn.

About the Cello:
The cello used in this recording was made in 1707 by Joseph Guarneri of Cremona, Italy, son of Andrea and father of Joseph “Del Gesu”. The Cremonese instruments of this period are considered the summit of achievement and this Joseph Guarneri filius Andreae cello proves the rule. It possesses an exceptional amount of dark red varnish for its age and is known for its rich magnificent tone. It was owned for many years by renowned teacher and soloist Janos Starker, who played it in Europe for his frequent tours and recordings.

About the Recording:
This recording was made in a natural acoustic setting and recorded with analogue tape. Great care was taken to capture the true sound of the trio in a natural acoustic space. Our goal was to turn away from the current trend of heavily edited, sonically boosted, crystal clear digital releases. Hence, no track has been edited in any way – all tracks have been recorded in a single take. There has been no signal processing, no reverb added – the image & balance comes directly from the two microphones. These were a matched pair of Royer R-122v vacuum tube ribbon mics connected with custom made silver cables. The microphone preamp was a custom unit designed & built by tube maven Tony Ma. It is based on the Western Electric WE437a input tube & the WE300B output tube (2 of the best sounding tubes in audio). The use of a direct heating triode lets more of the real emotion of the music thru. It’s an all transformer coupled, capacitor-less design with custom wound silver input step-up, interstage & output transformers. All interconnects were custom made silver cables with an active powered shielding to reduce interference. The recorder was a 2 track Studer A80 running at 15ips on the NAB standard – the record amp was a custom unit based on the 6900 tube designed by Tony Ma. Duplication was performed one at a time to another Studer A80 using a custom tubed output stage driven by WE437a tubes – the resulting tape is a very close approximation of the master tape. We hope you enjoy the results.

Monitoring System:
STAX SRM 006tA vacuum tube electrostatic headphones were used on the tape machine. The total playback system electronics and interconnect cables were custom designed and built by Tony Ma.
The line stage was based on a pair of Western Electric WE300B’s with custom wound silver input, output transformers & Shalco volume controls.
The speakers were Quad ESL 63’s running full range powered by a pair of parallel, single-ended WE300B monoblock amplifiers. The subwoofers were custom designed by Focal using their Audiom 15WX drivers. The amplifier is based on the RCA 838 transmission tube.
The super high tweeters are JBL 2405 drivers sitting on the Quads. The amplifier is based on the RCA 826 transmission tube. All amplifiers are transformer coupled, capacitor-less designs utilizing the Western Electric WE 437a input tube, and all have custom wound silver input, interstage and output transformers.
The signal crossover was designed on a pair of WE 300B’s to split the signal at 15KHz and 80 Hz to the super-high and woofer respectively. Both run as additive to the Quads.

UltraAnalogue Recordings 2014

Credits:
Produced by Edward Pong
Recorded and mastered by Edward Pong
Recorded at Pong Studio on: Beethoven Cello Sonata No.5 – May 25, 2014
Beethoven Piano Trio No.6 (Archduke) – May 25, 26, 27, 2014
Notes by Sietse-Jan Weijenberg, Julio Elizalde
Photos by Edward Pong
Many thanks to Tony Ma for his passion & genius in the design of the tubed mic pre-amp, tubed record & playback amps for the Studer A80 recorder & monitoring electronics
Many thanks to Roger Ginsley for his passion & technical support of this adventure.
For more information on UltraAnalogue Recordings, contact info@ultraanaloguerecordings.com

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