“My good friend Manny Ax would always say to me that it doesn’t matter what you did
yesterday; if you’re here today, that’s what counts.”
—Yo-Yo Ma to The New York Times Magazine
Today, June 4, Yo-Yo Ma and long-time friend and musical partner Emanuel Ax release Hope Amid Tears, a new recording of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, on Sony Classical. Available now, Hope Amid Tears presents Beethoven’s five sonatas for cello and piano in the order in which they were composed, tracing an important arc in Beethoven’s development and approach as a composer. Joining them are Beethoven’s three sets of variations for cello and piano.
The title is an allusion to the possibly apocryphal story that, in 1809, Beethoven sent a copy of the recently-completed Sonata No. 3 to his friend Ignaz von Gleichenstein with the note “Inter lacrimas et luctum”—“amid tears and grief.” At the time, Vienna was embroiled in the chaos of the Napoleonic Wars, and many of Beethoven’s closest friends and supporters had fled the city. But in this period of loneliness and isolation, compounded by his increasingly profound deafness, Beethoven nonetheless completed works of enduring spirit.
“When we look to music to give us hope for the future, to believe that we can survive and to do good, it is invariably to Beethoven’s,” writes Ax. “His mastery of musical craft was second to none, of course, but it is his indomitable spirit in the face of personal tragedy that makes him unique. In this period of world-wide unease, grief, and suffering, it is perhaps fitting that we are also celebrating the 250th birthday of the composer who represents what is best in our humanity.”
Ma and Ax have made music together for more than 40 years, recording dozens of albums, earning five Grammy Awards, and performing on stages all over the world. Their friendship is not only rooted in a deep love of music, but also a shared sense of humor and keen perspectives on life’s joys and challenges. Hope Amid Tears is their second recording of the complete Beethoven cello sonatas, after a 1987 effort that earned the duo their second Grammy.
“It has been a true privilege to live with this music for over forty years,” writes Ax. “Each time that Yo-Yo and I have come back to work on these sonatas and variations, we have found new meaning and new ways of realizing the notes on the page. Fortunately for us, there are so many ways of experiencing them, and finally the music itself is so uplifting that every attempt, whether good or bad, is a joy. I hope we can share with you our awe for Beethoven and our deep love for his vision.”
Beethoven: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano No. 1 in F major, Op. 5, No.1
Beethoven: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5, No.2
Beethoven: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69
Beethoven: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano No. 4 in C major, Op. 102, No.1
Beethoven: Sonata for Violoncello and Piano No. 5 in D major, Op. 102, No.2
Beethoven: 7 Variations on “Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen”, WoO 46
Beethoven: 12 Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, WoO 45
Beethoven: 12 Variations in F major on “Ein Madchen oder Weibchen”, Op.66
Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, Milan Records, XXIM Records, and Masterworks Broadway imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.sonymusicmasterworks.com/.
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