Erno Dohnanyi (1877-1960) Sonata in B flat Minor for Cello & Piano, Op. 8
Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) Sonata for Cello & Piano, Op. 4
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) Sonata in F Major for Cello and piano, Op. 6
Nancy Green, Cello; Tannis Gibson, Piano
JRI Recordings J123 TT:71:20
This presentation of very early works by three long-lived composers makes
an appealing and coherent collection that could be a model for recital
programs. The performances and recording quality leave nothing to be
desired. The players are both strong and subtle; they play superbly
together with appropriately varied tempi, clear articulation, vigorous
attacks and full tone. As for the recording: with my eyes closed they
might almost be playing in my living room.
After numerous hearings, the Kodaly sonata promises to offer me the most
lasting and pleasurable listening; I shall certainly return to it. It
is in two movements only, Kodalyhaving discarded not one but two opening
movements by 1910. What remains is a beautiful work. The first movement
is a short adagio, quiet, spare and ravishing, particularly in its piano
part. The second begins with a vigorous and flowing allegro but yields
to 'molto adagio.'
The earliest of these works was composed by Strauss in 1883 when he
was 19. It has strong melodic appeal with effective thematic variation.
The slow movement is lovely and the finale is both sweet and lively.
The commentator, James Reel, notes influence by Mendelssohn and Schumann
as well as the early development of the composer's own style.
Dohnanyi is not a composer who has ever appealed to me personally and
I wish the disc did not start off with a movement I confess to nodding
off from occasionally. However, the scherzo which follows does maintain
my attention with its extremely fleet pace varied by a slower central
section. The short, songful adagio non troppo leads into a substantial
theme and variations final movement which has interesting contrasts of
character and rhythm, including a pizzicato section, some broad melody
and some emphatic piano playing.
Recommended, especially for the Kodaly.
Copyright 2009 by R. James Tobin
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