Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Arpeggione Sonata, D821 [25:40] Introduction and variations on an original theme, D968A
(arr. A. Hulshoff and A. Frolich) [12:05] Lieder arrangements for
cello and piano
Alexander Hülshoff (cello); Andreas Frölich (piano)
rec. 2013, Schloss Engers, Neuwied, Germany OEHMS CLASSICS OC1818 [65:10]
Schubert didn’t write any music for solo cello, or cello and piano, but this disc handily collects 75 minutes of music which works well on the instrument. The Arpeggione Sonata is now very familiar as part of the viola and cello repertoires, and there’s also a theme and variations (date unknown) of which Piatigorsky commissioned a cello transcription. The other ten tracks draw from the biggest and richest part of Schubert’s work: the songs.
We get two songs from Schwanengesang, one from Die schöne Müllerin, and the very famous “Wanderer” and “Trout”. I like the concept of this album, and I love all the music. What I do not like is the sound of Alexander Hülshoff’s cello. Without knowing how much this cello sound is in his control, it’s hard to judge the performances. Hülshoff has great rapport with the pianist, Andreas Frölich, and together they have an impeccable knack for the right pacing. The songs flow as naturally as they would with a great voice. The two performers, by the way, are responsible for the very good arrangements.
That said, something about Hülshoff’s cello grates on my ears, and made it impossible for me to listen to this in one sitting. Maybe it’s the vibrato, which tends to be wide and “wobbly”. Maybe it’s the slightly nasal tone, reminiscent of Maria Kliegel. The cello maker and year are not mentioned in the booklet. Maybe it’s the recording venue, a 1700s castle, although I find that unlikely given how well the piano sound comes across.
This is a difficult review to write. Everything about this CD should be recommendable — the sound, the arrangements, the choice of music — except I just cannot abide the rather unpleasant timbre of Hülshoff’s cello ... or cello playing. Listen to sample clips before you buy.
Arrangements by the composer or performers
An die Musik, D. 547
Nacht und Träume, D. 827
Heidenröslein, D. 257
Der Wanderer, D. 493
Die Forelle, D. 550
Am Meer, D. 957 No. 12
Lied der Mignon D. 877 No. 4
Der Neugierige, D. 795 No. 6
Du bist die Ruh, D. 776
Ständchen, D. 957 No. 4