In a world blessed
with an abundance of exceptional cellists, it requires a superlative
effort for any aspiring artist to make their mark and this is
precisely what Bulgarian cellist Kalin Ivanov appears to be
setting out to do with this disc.
The somewhat curious
choice of repertoire for this CD would certainly be more appropriate
for a recital programme: it includes two major sonatas for cello
and piano, Samuel Barber’s Sonata Op.6 and Brahms’ Sonata No.1
Op.38, flanking two relatively less significant works by Vivaldi
neglected Sonata for cello and piano opens the recital and the
duo immediately make their intentions clear, with a full-blooded
and direct assault on this quintessentially romantic work. It
was composed in 1933 and premiered in New York four days before
the composer turned 23!
and dramatic character of the music provides the ideal vehicle
for both the cellist and his duo partner to demonstrate their
prowess. From the lowest register of the cello to the soaring
heights, Kalin Ivanov is able to demonstrate real power and
clarity of tone, whilst Emily White rises admirably to the most
exacting demands of the piano part, especially the massive chordal
writing of the Allegro appassionato final movement.
No 5 in E minor follows and although one would nowadays almost
certainly expect to hear it performed with a harpsichord and
continuo, it receives a frank and sincere performance. The technical
demands of the outer movements are negotiated plausibly enough,
though one is left yearning for a little more consideration
of the inherent dance element. The expressive slow movements
are likewise beautifully articulated, but not necessarily with
due deference to current stylistic sensitivities.
receive a well crafted performance, with impassioned singing
lines from Ivanov complemented by the rippling dexterity of
Emily White’s piano playing. The duo’s performance is an ultimately
successful one, but there nevertheless persists the distinct
impression that Schumann’s music is occasionally subordinated
to the imperative of showcasing Mr Ivanov’s undeniably gorgeous
Brahms’ Sonata in
E minor presents the sternest challenge of all, but Ivanov and
White are unquestionably at their best in this work. Here they
enjoy a much more integrated sense of purpose and the musical
outcome is altogether more satisfying.
The first movement
begins suitably mysteriously, with the brooding quality which
characterises the entire composition pretty unambiguously articulated.
The somewhat more optimistic second subject is presented with
requisite relief, but the duo soon return to the dark and melancholy
qualities of the work and present a powerful and credible performance
of this colossal movement.
The playful Allegretto
quasi Menuetto second movement, with its Chopinesque middle
section, provides tantalising glimpses of something more cheerful,
whilst the entirely appropriate sense of struggle in fugal final
movement brings the work to a breathless conclusion, without
ever undermining the inimitable brooding turbulence.
If I do have a criticism,
then it is that the rare moments of over-enthusiasm in the finale
of the Brahms regrettably lead to some questionable intonation.
Mr Kalinov is a
cellist of admirable expressive capability, from whom I have
no doubt we shall hear more in future.