Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967)
Sonatina, for cello and piano [9:23]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonata in A minor, for 'arpeggione' (cello) and piano, D.821 [25:26]
Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
Sonata, for piano and cello, in B flat minor, op.8 [27:33]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Tambourin Chinois, for violin (cello) and piano, op.3 [3:54]
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968)
Figaro Variations from Rossini's 'The Barber of Seville', for violin (cello) and piano [5:44]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Feldeinsamkeit, op.86 no.2, for voice (cello) and piano [3:06]
Wen-Sinn Yang (cello)
Adrian Oetiker (piano)
rec. Studio 2, Bavarian Radio, Munich, 13-16 June 2012.
OEHMS CLASSICS OC 866 [75:36]
The CD cover gives the prospective listener a good idea of what to expect, yet surprisingly little detail. Flipping the digipak case over gives virtually the same limited information. Wen-Sinn Yang and Adrian Oetiker are both experienced Swiss musicians, much recorded - but surely their renown is not so immense that the mere listing of their name will have music-lovers placing orders for CDs without seeing what music they will be performing? Time will tell.
As the accompanying notes report, Yang and Oetiker's programme is structured like a recital, opening with Kodály's dreamy, folk-inspired Sonatina, once intended as the first movement of a full-sized sonata. They round off with three short encore-type pieces, none of which was originally written for the cello, but each bringing something unique to the proceedings: the lively exoticism of Kreisler, the wit and jaw-dropping virtuosity of Castelnuovo-Tedesco's 'Figaro' Paraphrase, and the gentle longing of Brahms's Feldeinsamkeit.
In between come Schubert's very pretty 'Arpeggione' Sonata, heard here in one of its common disguises as a convincing, heart-felt cello sonata; and Dohnányi's gloriously lyrical op.8, the focal point of this generously-timed CD. Something for everyone in a sense, but there are threads that link these works with each other, as the notes briefly indicate. It is unlikely that Yang and Oetiker had in mind the setting of a new benchmark for any of these items, but they are nonetheless a poised and polished partnership. Their Dohnányi is perhaps not quite as magical as Michal Kaňka and Jaromír Klepáč on Praga Digitals (DSD250249, in SuperAudio, 2008), but it is not far off.
Sound quality is very good. The booklet comes glued to the case, which some will undoubtedly find an annoyance. The German-English notes are fairly basic, and in any case matched in bulk by the biographies of Yang and Oetiker, reinforcing the unfortunate impression that Oehms Classics consider the composers of secondary importance. Translations into English, though apparently done by a native speaker, nonetheless have a slight accent ("pursuing a worldwide career since many years").
Yang and Oetiker can be heard performing together with clarinettist Eduard Brunner and other musicians on a fine disc of quintets and sonatas by J X Lefèvre, released in 2010 by Tudor - see review. Yang in particular has made numerous other quality recordings of all sorts of repertoire for a variety of labels.
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