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The Road to Cello Playing
Traditional Etudes and modern Concert Pieces

Sebastian LEE (1805-1887)

Etudes Op. 70 Nos. 4 in G, 11 in G, 20 in G, 24 in G minor
Karl SCHRÖDER (1848-1935)

Etude in G Op. 31 No. 12
Friedrich DOTZAUER (1783-1860)

Etudes Op. 120 Nos. 2 in A minor and 8 in G
113 Exercises for Cello; No. 32 in D minor
Jean Louis DUPORT (1749-1818)

Etude No 7. in G minor, No. 8 in D
Alfredo PIATTI (1822-1901)

Etudes Op. 25 No. 7 in C, No. 8 in A minor, No. 11 in G, No. 9 in D
David POPPER (1846-1913)

Etudes Op. 73 Nos. 2 in G, 6 in F, 7 in A, 13 in E flat, 15 in G, 22 in G, 28 in A, 34 in F, 36 in C, 40 in D
Friedrich GRÜTZMACHER (1832-1903)

Etude in D, Op. 38 No. 21
Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Caprice in B flat Op. 1 No. 13
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)

Sonata for Solo Cello Op. 25 No. 3
Bernhard HELDEN (b 1910)

Variations on "Liliburlero"
Gaspar CASSADO (1897-1966)

Suite for Solo Cello
Janos Starker (cello)
Recorded 1967 except Hindemith, Heiden and Cassado, which are undated, and come from Starker’s own collection
PARNASSUS PACD 97-008 [76.03]



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The Road to Cello Playing is a tough one. In his notes reprinted from the original 1967 LP (and revised thirty years later) Janos Starker states his twin aims – the aesthetic pleasure of simply hearing a cellist play works written for the practice room and also the pedagogic advantage for a student as to how these Etudes actually sound. The choice of work is Starker’s alone, and they are ones that brought back memories of his own youthful study, good or bad, though as he admits he has slightly exaggerated the expressive content to emphasise the aesthetic component of his purpose. So some tempi and dynamics are less strict than they would otherwise be – the musical melos is promoted in the interests of auditory interest even if, as he honestly admits, this is necessarily "inconsistent with regard to the training purposes of the work."

Some of that expressive potential can best be felt in Dotzauer’s Etude in G and in Duport’s crippling Etude No. 7 in G minor we can hear Starker surmounting a myriad technical difficulties with stunning panache. Intonation, voicings, bowing, articulation, stretching, maintenance of melody lines, these are just the start of the tremendous pedagogic value enshrined in these "daily dozen" – even if Starker is honest enough to admit that some may be disillusioned when hearing him playing them (and pragmatic enough to add that if they are disillusioned they shouldn’t join the profession). It’s especially good to hear the Piatti and Popper Etudes. The nobility he imparts to the former’s Op. 25/9 (in D) is astonishing and the aerated drive through the latter’s selection from Op. 73 jaw-dropping.

To conclude the disc we have three solo works; the Sonata for solo cello by Hindemith, Cassado’s splendid and now popular Suite and Bernhard Heiden’s Variations. All are undated broadcast performances and come from Starker’s own collection of recordings. The leonine drive of his Hindemith is matched by the incipient drama of its opening movement Lebhaft, sehr markiet. He catches the humour – thematic and registral - of the Massig schnell second movement of this five-movement work with regal exactitude. The harmonics of the Cassado are surmounted with great skill, the fantastical sonorities buttressed with secure technical flourish. His Sardana is idiomatic and the Intermezzo e danza finale with its arco and pizzicato games, the dashing Spanishry of its profile, its dynamic gradations and drive is marshalled by Starker into a thing complete in itself.

Whilst interest in this disc might be limited to its pedagogic function no Starker disc is without interest, especially one to which these solo works have been added.

Jonathan Woolf



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