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CD: AmazonUS

Duos for Cello and Bass
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Duetto for Cello and Bass (1824) [13:09]
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
Sonata in B flat major [9:49]
Franz Joseph KEYPER (1756-1815)
Rondo Solo for Bass [4:38]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)
Duo for Cello and Bass [9:57]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Duo for Bass and Cello [1:14]
Charles Nicolas BAUDIOT (1773-1849)
Theme and Variations [6:32]
Don THOMPSON (b.1940)
In Memory of Glenn - Duo for Cello and Bass [10:47]
Coenraad Bloemendal (cello)
Joel Quarrington (bass)
rec. 1978, Thompson 2008.
Experience Classicsonline

Once again Crystal Records has been attending to its LP catalogue and restoring some gems to the marketplace. As with some other discs they’ve also enlisted their executant musicians and invited them to get back into the studios and enrich their legacies with more music. In this case we have a programme recorded back in 1978 to which Don Thompson’s In Memory of Glenn has been added in 2008 by the Coenraad Bloemendal- Joel Quarrington duo.

The total timing still doesn’t breach the hour mark but this is specialised territory; duos for cello and bass are not as plentiful as all that, and what we have is certainly engaging. I suppose it’s fair enough to start off with one of the towering pieces in the genre, Rossini’s 1824 Duetto. As well as the accustomed melodic grace Rossini has ensured a taxing ride for the players; there are some tough arpeggios here and pretty extensive demands, one which the current duo manage to disguise with considerable élan. The ensemble of the first movement pizzicati is rock solid, whilst the operatic style recitative and aria that is the Andante molto brings out the lungs of the performers, even in the more sportive and combative B section. The finale is a pleasing example of Rossinian wit, a quality seldom in short supply at the best of times. The cello is the tenor with the bass chugging happily beneath.

We also have Boccherini’s Sonata which is slight but hugely effective. It’s typically lyrical and infused with fine dynamics in this performance. The warm sonority of the central movement is the highlight but there’s also a genial finale. Keyper’s Rondo Solo for bass gives Quarrington an opportunity to display some valiant articulation, especially in the faster second section. After which we have Offenbach’s Duo. The composer was himself a cellist and constructs a demanding little work, not least in the opening movement; he was clearly no digital slouch. Again the slow movement - here an oddly melancholic Andante - is the highlight.

You’d better not do anything else whilst listening to Massenet’s Duo for bass and cello because, at one minute fourteen, if you do you’ll think you’ve moved into Charles Nicholas Baudiot’s Theme and Variations. This is an operatic paraphrase analogue and it’s full of virtuosic curlicues and testing passagework and plenty of panache - a potboiler really but a particularly exciting one. And then to end, the piece in memory of Glenn Gould which subtly evokes the Bach of the Goldberg Variations and The Musical Offering - a warm, noble salutation. Thompson is a jazz player - he played with George Shearing for five years - but this one is devoid of these associations.

A wholesome disc all in all - worthily retrieved from the embers of the LP world and presented anew.

Jonathan Woolf


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