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Performances to cherish

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Asrael Symphony
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match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

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a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

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hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


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Après un rêve
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Après un rêve, Op. 7 no 1 (1877) [2:47]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Sonata for Cello and Basso Continuo in E minor, Op. 14 no 5/RV 40 (C.1740) [11:52]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Morceaux (6) for Piano, Op. 51: no 6, Valse sentimentale (1882) [2:22
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Canciones populares españolas (1914-15) [13:40]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pièce en forme de Habañera (1907) [2:34]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonata for Arpeggione in A minor, D 821 (1824) [20:58]
Pablo CASALS (1876-1973)
Song of the Birds [3:27]
Petr Nouzovský (cello)
Miriam Rodriguez Brüullová (guitar)
rec. May 2015, Bratislava
ARCO DIVA UP0189-2 131 [57:56]

It seems no time at all since I last reviewed a disc by cellist Petr Nouzovský. In fact, it was no time at all (review). For this latest release Arco Diva has paired him with Slovak guitarist Miriam Rodriguez Brüullová for a genial – I was going to suggest undemanding but that would not be right – recital that is somewhat reminiscent of pre-war sonata recitals where a Baroque sonata is followed by a Classical one and the programme ends in a fusillade of encore-style pieces. That’s not quite the case here because though we have a Vivaldi sonata and Schubert’s ubiquitous Arpeggione we also have an arrangement of Falla’s Suite populaire espagnole.

I suppose there are elements that underline the programme other than the more utilitarian or pragmatic ones. Nostalgia, intimacy, and folklore are three but they certainly don’t define the music. Recorded close, one can hear some anticipatory sniffs throughout a recital the success of which will largely depend on the listener’s appreciation of this particular combination of instrumentation.

Vivaldi’s Sonata in E minor, RV40 is deftly negotiated – the second Largo in particular – but the Falla offers a more idiomatic-sounding piece, deriving as it does from the composer’s Siete canciones populares españolas. They find a fresh and verdant, outdoorsy spirit for Canción, whilst Jota also works particularly well, its Iberian quotient emboldened by the guitar. The Arpeggione Sonata is played with a rather reserved kind of approach, an introspection that also attends Casals’ Song of the Birds. There’s a lot of sonic colour in Fauré’s Après un rêve though it’s recorded too closely and too loudly for optimum expressive impact: Tchaikovsky’s Valse sentimentale sounds rather better in that respect. The cellist’s vibrato rightly takes on a faster speed and riper width in Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera.

There is a great deal about the two artists in the booklet note, in both Czech and English, and that includes microscopic detail about musicians they have worked with but not a solitary word about the music or arrangements. I’m not sure that this best serves them - or the potential listener, come to that.

Jonathan Woolf



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