Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Polonaise brillante in C major, Op.3 (1828/30) [8:27]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Suite populaire espagnole (after Siete canciones populares Españolas, 1914) [12:20]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Sonata for Cello and Piano, L.135 (1915) [10:19]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in C major (1960) [18:55]
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Rhapsody No.1 for Violin and Piano, arranged for Cello and Piano, Sz.88 (1928, cello transcription 1929) [9:09]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonata for Arpeggione in A minor, D.821 (1824) [22:42]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Variations on a theme of Rossini, H.290 (1942) [7:34]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op.40 (1934) [25:23]
Timora Rosler (cello), Klára Würtz (piano)
rec. September 1997, Church Kortenhoef, the Netherlands; May 2001, Doopsgezinde Gemeente Deventer. DDD.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9157 [59:02 + 54:17]
This release is a combination of two earlier ones. Disc One is the first part of the double disc "The Romantic Cello" (Brilliant Classics 99758). The second disc there was devoted to concertante works for cello, also with Timora Rosler. Disc One was released on Arsis/Bellaphon - and seems to be extinct. The combined works under the new roof are not quite the perfect neighbors. There’s Chopin and Schubert on one end and Shostakovich and Britten on the other. I doubt that anyone will often be in the mood to listen to these extremes at the same time, and especially when they are interleaved. Still, the works are performed well and, if you listen to them separately, provide an enjoyable experience.
The main feature of the album is the warm, ripe sound of Timora Rosler’s cello - it's a Thomas Dodd instrument from 1800. Sometimes it sounds a bit watery, syrupy even, but never falls into wobbliness. As a consequence, Romantic music sounds very Romantic, and non-Romantic becomes a little Romantic as well. This quality can be best appreciated in works that employ the cello as a singer, where the instrument is not in a hurry and has time to shape the notes. Such is Chopin’s Polonaise brillante, which receives a regal performance. Klára Würtz provides first-class Chopin flourishes on the piano. The wide gestures are graceful and gallant. Unlike some more piano-centred performances, the accent is very much on the cello. Another success is de Falla’s Suite populaire espagnole. Its cello part originates from the vocal part of Siete canciones populares Españolas and is, accordingly, very songlike, which is perfect for Rosler. The performance is characteristic and sincere.
On the negative side, the music that requires fast note-spinning calls for a leaner cello voice: Rosler’s is too meaty for that. It either sounds heavy like a fast comic aria of a basso buffo, or starts “swallowing” notes. This happens in the Arpeggione sonata. More song-like places in the sonata are excellent - like the slow movement, which becomes a veritable romance. Every little note is pronounced in Martinů’s virtuosic Variations on a theme of Rossini, but this really doesn’t help. The heavy vibrato of the cello and the density of the musical fabric together result in the buzzing of a big bumble-bee. And yes, it is a happy bumblebee but in the long run it annoys.
I have ambivalent feelings about the cello and piano transcription of Bartók’s First Rhapsody. On one hand, the low, rough voice of the cello excellently fits the earthy, folksy character of the first part. I do not know whether the term “fiddling” can be applied to a cello, but that’s what Timora Rosler is doing, and to great effect. In the second part her instrument lacks the brilliance that the violin can provide. The speeds are well chosen and the accelerations are infectious.
The Debussy Sonata receives a warm and expressive performance. The gestures are strong and bold, the climaxes are ecstatic, and there are contrasts of cold and hot. We may get less impressionistic nuances; the colors are more saturated than one could expect in Debussy. Still this is a coherent and beautiful reading.
The performance of Britten’s Sonata is full-voiced and involved. Comparing it to the 1961 recording of Britten and Rostropovich, I feel that the two guys were from Mars, whilst Rosler and Würtz are from Venus. They bring in lyricism and drama and the music becomes personal and exciting. The Elegia has a dark, hypnotic power, and the final Moto perpetuo gets a sudden Hungarian twist. The two instruments are well balanced.
The warm tone of Rosler’s cello keeps the chill out of the desolate ending of the first movement of the Shostakovich. Apart from this, the movement is wide and emotional, with cantabile fragments followed by nervous outbursts. The scherzo releases small demons, who circle and dance to the sound of a droning bagpipe. The slow movement is a gloomy monologue, deeply personal and depressing. The trademark black humor of Shostakovich fills the grotesque dance of the finale.
The insert note seems to be a patchwork from older releases. It is not balanced - for example, the works by Bartók, de Falla and Chopin together have for themselves one sentence, while some of the others get almost a page-full. The recording quality is good, with cello to the fore. This disc may appeal to listeners that like the mellow qualities of the cello sound. The modern works by Britten and Shostakovich appear unexpectedly lyrical. However, the Arpeggione does not benefit from this approach.
This disc may appeal to the listeners that like the mellow qualities of the cello sound.