New Classical Tracks®

Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel conquers the Beethoven sonatas

Jennifer Kloetzel performs Beethoven's complete set of works for cello and piano.Michelle Lee

New Classical Tracks - Jennifer Kloetzel (Extended)


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March 23, 2022

Jennifer Kloetzel and Robert Koenig — Beethoven: The Conquering Hero (AVIE)

New Classical Tracks - Jennifer Kloetzel

“People don't often think of Beethoven as this stormy, moody composer, but I think there's such sweetness, depth and cleverness in his music,” cellist Jennifer Kloetzel said. “The dialog between instruments fascinates me. Every time I come back to a work of his, I want to learn more about it and dig a little deeper. That is a sign of a great composer.”

Kloetzel has been crazy about Beethoven for as long as she can remember. As a founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, she spent 20 years performing and recording his music. Together, with pianist Robert Koenig, she has recorded the composer’s complete works for cello and piano, on a new three-CD set called, Beethoven: The Conquering Hero.

At the beginning, there's a lot of piano. It's very piano heavy,” Kloetzel said about the Beethoven sonatas. “The cello is not an accompanying instrument necessarily, but there are moments. So for example, in the first set of variations the cello does not get the main theme until the 10th variation.

“But as we advance through the time period, you see the two instruments become more equal. Sonata No. 3 in A Major is considered the first true partnership of cello and piano. It starts with a long cello solo. I think Beethoven was saying, ‘Here it is! The cello is going to carry this, and the piano will come in later.’”

Why was it bold for your childhood teacher to place Beethoven's Sonata No. 2 on your music stand?

“It is the one sonata that Beethoven wrote for cello and piano that is in a minor key. One of the greatest things about him is how he plays with contrast and context. You have this very dark introduction, which you get released from and it feels like the sun has come out even though it's still in a minor key. There's something about those contrasts and how he creates an experience for the listener that I find just constantly interesting.”

Why is Beethoven the conquering hero in your mind?

The composer himself conquered a lot of things in his life from losing his hearing to never finding love. There were many struggles for him. Yet, he kept writing music and he kept bringing us his cleverness and beauty.

“Beethoven once said in German, ‘Art demands of us that we shall not stand still.’ I love that idea, and I feel like that's what happens when I'm in the recording studio giving it my all. Then I walk out of there and I need to find fresh ideas so I'm not doing exactly what I've been doing before.“

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Jennifer Kloetzel and Robert Koenig — Beethoven: The Conquering Hero (AVIE Store)

Jennifer Kloetzel and Robert Koenig — Beethoven: The Conquering Hero (Amazon)

Jennifer Kloetzel (official site)