RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Sonata in C for cello and piano. Op. 65 (1961) [19:46]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Spring Song (1912) [2:04]
Mélodie (1911) [3:31]
Mark-Anthony TURNAGE (b.1960)
'Sleep On' - Three Lullabies for cello and piano (1992) (Berceuse [3:42]; Refrain [5:39]; Lullaby [3:15])
Sonata in D minor for cello and piano, Op. 125 (1913-17) [21:51]
Milo (2009) [3:24]
Guy Johnston (cello); Kathryn Stott (piano)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, 10-12 September 2009
ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100010 [64:17]
Benjamin Britten composed his Cello Sonata in C at Rostropovich’s request when the composer first met the great Russian cellist in 1960. Britten completed it the following year, and Rostropovich was, by all accounts, immensely - and justifiably! - fond of the work. It here opens a carefully-chosen programme of pieces by Britten, his teacher Frank Bridge, and contemporary composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. The sonata is performed by cellist Guy Johnston with utter and rather frenetic conviction and passion, beautifully accompanied by Kathryn Stott - a promising start to the disc.
It is followed by the Frank Bridge Spring Song and Mélodie. These two short gems date from 1912 and 1911 respectively - and are therefore in Bridge’s early, more romantic, style - and receive lyrical and yet impassioned performances from Johnston and Stott. The ensuing Sleep on - Three Lullabies for cello and piano by Turnage was heavily influenced by Britten’s cello suites, and one can hear how it very much inhabits a similar sound-world. The final movement, Lullaby, is particularly beautifully played, with a luminous and gorgeously resonant sound from the cello.
Bridge’s Cello Sonata in D minor of 1913-17 is also radiantly played, Johnston and Stott capturing the idiom perfectly. For me, this spectacular performance is the highlight of the disc, with its full-blooded, committed and purposeful playing.
The disc concludes with a short piece by Turnage composed last year and named after his son - and Guy Johnson’s god-son - Milo. It is a beautiful and atmospheric work, and the excellent performance is marred only - for me at least - by the occasional too-audible sniff from the cello soloist.
There is some superb music-making on this CD, demonstrating a tremendous synergy between the performers, and total dedication to the music. It is certainly a disc I would recommend to anyone looking for excellent versions of any of these works.
A disc I would recommend to anyone looking for excellent versions of any of these works.