The repertoire of cello sonatas after Beethoven is
not exactly enormous, and these two works are among the best. They are
both written on the large scale, and both of them feature first movements
around a quarter of an hour in duration. Any music which comes into
that category has to be both strongly constructed and characterfully
inventive, which of course is abundantly true in each case.
Aside from a handful of songs, the Cello Sonata Chopin
wrote towards the end of his tragically short life is unusual in allowing
the creative focus to be placed away from the solo role of his own instrument,
the piano. Make no mistake, this is a major work by any standards, and
it also finds Chopin at the height of his powers. The relationship between
the two instruments is a true partnership, and these young artists take
every opportunity to express the music's romantic ardour, while not
denying its classically conceived construction. In this they are aided
by a firm and atmospheric recorded sound, and an ideal chamber music
acoustic. The second movement Scherzo is particularly successful in
its rhythmic pointings, while the short slow movement makes its mark
too. This performance is well judged and rather more satisfying, I feel,
than some recordings by more famous names.
The Rachmaninov Cello Sonata, like the Chopin,
is one of the composer's most successful compositions. If I have a criticism
it is that the large-scale outer movements do not quite build that surging
romantic intensity which is this composer's special expressive characteristic.
Balances are nicely managed, and the tone quality of both players is
always pleasing. While the recording does not build up Walton's tone,
it remains wholly pleasing and natural.
A most satisfying disc, then, and the whole issue has
excellent production standards.
see also review by William