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
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.