Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960)
Cello Sonata, Op. 8 (1899) [25.58]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Introduction et Polonaise brillante for cello and piano, Op. 3 (1829) [9.40]
Waltz in A minor for piano (1831) Transcribed for cello and piano by Arta Arnicane [5.41]
Cello Sonata, Op. 65 (1845/46) [30.58]
Duo Arnicans (Florian Arnicans (cello), Arta Arnicane (piano))
rec. 2014, Zurich Radio Studio, Switzerland
SOLO MUSICA SM226 [72.33]

Founded in 2005 Munich-based Solo Musica has released a number of recordings that frequently contain fascinating repertoire. One of the finest is this new release from the husband and wife partnership, cellist Florian Arnicans and pianist Arta Arnicane. What I especially admire is the choice of repertoire which varies from Chopin’s well known Cello Sonata to Arta Arnicane’s captivating transcription for cello and piano of the Waltz in A minor for piano to Dohnányi’s Cello Sonata a work on the fringes of the repertoire that deserves to be heard more often.

In his early twenties Dohnányi composed his Sonata for cello and piano in B flat major, Op. 8 in 1899 and was perhaps inspired by hearing his father play who was an amateur cellist. Advocacy came from influential music writer Donald Tovey who considered the Sonata “an important work”. Written in the grand Romantic tradition this is an imposing four movement score. Especially impressive is the Finale: Tema con variazioni which is full of varied moods and vivid colours — bright and cheerful on the surface with passionate undercurrents.

The first Chopin work is the Introduction et Polonaise brillante in C major for cello and piano. Written in 1829 it is one of the Polish composer’s first published works. Perhaps tongue-in-cheek Chopin described the Alla Polacca, prior to writing the Introduction section, as “Nothing to it but dazzle, for the salon, for the ladies.” In an interpretation as excellent as this it is easy to understand the music's continuing appeal. A welcome addition to the cello and piano repertoire is the Waltz (No. 2) in A minor from The Trois grandes valses brillantes, Op. 34 from 1831 which Arta Arnicane has sympathetically transcribed for cello and piano. With its glorious cello melody and sparkling piano part matching the interest of the cello I can easily see this getting considerable air-play on a commercial radio station such as Classic FM. A repertoire staple is the four movement Cello Sonata, Op. 65 written in 1845/46 - one of only a handful of works Chopin published for an instrument other than the piano. Chopin wrote the work for virtuoso Auguste Franchomme who is also the dedicatee of the score. Playing with passion and steadfast dedication the duo here demonstrates a special affinity for this powerfully attractive Sonata.

Throughout the programme the assured Duo Arnicans communicate an engaging emotional response secured through judiciously prepared and sharply-honed playing. Once or twice I was left wanting additional tone colour from the cello but the overall level of commitment seems to compensate. This CD is afforded excellent sound quality.

This is a desirable release worthy of attention for its standard of performance and absorbing programme.

Michael Cookson

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