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Ernő DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
Cello Sonata in B flat Op.8 (1899) [25:59]
Ludwig THUILLE (1861-1907)
Cello Sonata Op.22 (1902) [27:46]
Donald Francis TOVEY (1875-1940)
Sonata for two cellos in G major (1912) [20:38]
Marcy Rosen (cello)
Lydia Artymiw (piano)
Frances Rowell (cello) – Tovey
rec. Le Frak Concert Hall, Aaron Copland School of Music, Queen’s College, Flushing NY, January and April 2007 
BRIDGE 9264 [74:39]
Experience Classicsonline

Two performances of the Dohnányi sonata have emerged almost simultaneously – this and the competing Naxos performed by cellist Mark Kosower and Jee-Won Oh [8.570570]. It’s a strong, powerful if early work that’s never been entirely neglected by record companies. Indeed Naxos itself now has two such recordings on its books, the earlier being by Maria Kliegel and Jenő Jandó [Naxos 8.554468].
Marcy Rosen and Lydia Artymiw are the Bridge protagonists. They take similar tempi to those set by the Kosower-Oh team but the performances are strongly divergent in interpretative stance. Briefly the Bridge duo is less extrovert, and tends to cut a more noble profile, not least in the delightful Scherzo. Here they’re faster than their rivals, more adamantine – especially Artymiw – and tend to play the B section in a more buttoned up way. Kosower phrases with great sensitivity and refinement and I prefer his and Oh’s way. Tone colours and rhythmic attention to detail is also superior in the Naxos performance with a less austere slow movement and a more vivid finale.
Ludwig Thuille’s sonata is less often recorded than the Dohnányi and to be relished for that reason alone. It’s a well-argued work, somewhat influenced by Rheinberger, a soupçon of Brahms, and some obvious Wagnerian harmonies. Flowing and lyrical describes the first of the three movements. The second is a touch reserved and mordant with some Tristanesque harmonies in the piano part. The finale bustles powerfully though without particular distinction. It’s cleanly and purposefully played though I can imagine performances that wring more out of it.
Tovey’s duo sonata arose from the ménage in which he was embroiled in a 1912 holiday – the incendiary trio of himself, his great admirer Casals and the Catalan’s lover, Suggia. Horszowski and Granados were also there. I’ve not had the opportunity yet to read the new biography of the Portuguese firebrand so I don’t know if this episode is gone into in greater depth there, since Mary Grierson, Tovey’s biographer, doesn’t. But it’s strongly implied in the notes to this disc that Tovey and Suggia enjoyed a brief affair, swiftly terminated and followed by their expulsion from the Edenic summer home at Playa San Salvador near Barcelona. The sonata was written for both cellists to play. It opens with succulent, almost ecstatic entwining, before moving off to more Brahmsian waters. The central movement is a series of variations on a Catalan folksong – full of echo effects and really very lovely. And the finale in energetically Bachian, as befits Casals, with playful opportunities for each player ostentatiously to outdo the other in different registers.
An enjoyable disc - well played though perhaps somewhat under-projected. The recording is reasonable. 
Jonathan Woolf


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