Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Cello Sonata No.1 in B flat, Op.45 (1838) [25:32]
Cello Sonata No.2 in D, Op.58 (1843) [24:46]
Variations Concertantes, Op.17 (1829) [9:33]
Romance sans paroles, Op.109 [4:16]
Colin Carr (cello)
Thomas Sauer (piano)
rec. June 2010, Menuhin Hall

One notices firstly that the recorded perspective for Colin Carr and Thomas Sauer is not as ‘present’ as that for, say, Paul Tortelier and Maria de la Pau in their classic traversal of the Mendelssohn Cello Sonatas for EMI. Then one notices, instead, the natural perspective of this Cello Classics disc, and the fact that Carr phrases with most inventive and affectionate elegance almost across the bar lines. This, once more, contrasts with the much slower and more statuesque playing of Tortelier. Carr’s tonal resources are finely equalised, his ethos urgent romanticism in action, his phraseology both light and intensely forward driven. The result is a performance of the second movement of the B flat sonata that courses with eager intensity and directionality. He catches, too, the fantasy that lies at the heart of the Canzonetta. In all this one should not omit mention of Thomas Sauer, a most worthy colleague whose snappy, galvanizing rhythmic brio in the finale reinforces the fine impression made earlier in the sonata. Ensemble is strong, and both men are of one mind when it comes to their music-making.
Carr’s desire and ability to crest phrases, and to communicate the vibrant open-heartedness of much of the writing, are also reasons for the success of this disc. Note the sheer zest and rhythmic buoyancy in the opening of the Sonata in D, or its witty pizzicato badinage in the scherzo, as much as the piano’s rolled chords and chorale-evoking lines in the Adagio. The two men manage to convey the joyful nature of the finale and at no cost to clarity or ensemble surety. The sonatas are in fine hands in this recording.
Then we also have the Variations Concertantes - I was going to write ‘an early work’ but Mendelssohn was twenty, after all, and when is ‘early’ appropriate with this prodigy? The variations are variously rich, refined, bullish and powerful and their varying moods are conveyed with richness and characterisation. Spring-like warmth inhabits the Romance sans paroles, Op.109.
With that well judged acoustic and a finely designed booklet, this is a most successful and accomplished disc.
Jonathan Woolf  

A most successful and accomplished disc.