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Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Complete Works for Cello & Piano
Cello Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op.42 (1855) [20:02]
Cello Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op.89 (1866) [22:32]
Pieces (3) for Cello & Piano, Op.146 (1893) [11:54]
Cello Sonata No. 3 in G major, Op.238 (1897) [23:11]
Martin Rummel (cello)
Roland Krüger (piano)
rec. 2018, Schloss Weinberg, Kefermarkt, Austria
NAXOS 8.573727 [77:57]

The German composer Carl Reinecke has always seemed to be on the periphery of the musical world never quite making it into the higher echelons, this despite a gift for melody, so perhaps this is due to, what some have described as his conservative style. He was born in Altona, so in reality he was born Danish, after initial music studies with his father, a respected music teacher, he began his first concert tour as a pianist at the age of nineteen, this included dates at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig during the 1843-44 season, and it was whilst he was in Leipzig that he began studying with Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann, who became friends and great influences on his own music; during this period he also met and had lessons with Franz Liszt, eventually going on to give lessons to Liszt’s daughters.

His music is representative of German high romanticism, highly melodic and well structured with the influence of Schumann easily detected. This influence is clear in the 1st Cello Sonata of 1855, especially in the second theme of its opening Allegro moderato, the first and main theme being bolder and more individualistic and striking. The slow second movement is quite beautiful, like a song without words in which the cello is given the vocal line. This if followed by an Intermezzo which replaces the usual scherzo, whilst the Finale is marked by a wonderfully melodic main theme.

The Second and Third Cello Sonatas differ from the first in that they are both in three movements, with both having a short slow introduction to the first movement before the more animated and quicker main thematic material comes in. In the Andante of the Sonata No.2 it is the cello that leads the way with a probing, almost questioning, theme before the piano comes in with a different tack all together, the piano then being pitted against the pizzicato cello part. The Sonata ends with a scherzo like section with its more optimistic theme, this is then replaced with a bolder and more lyrical second theme, these two themes alternate until the bolder second theme wins through at the end - quite wonderful.

After the opening movement of the Third Sonata, in which the piano sets the mood, the second movement Andante opens with a meditative almost solemn theme which becomes more melodic as the thematic material is developed. The Finale movement is superb in the way that it pits the piano, with its strident thematic material, against the cello, they then combine and run headlong towards the work's completion. This is a wonderful Sonata, one which best shows Reinecke as his own man, and is my favourite of the three.

The Three Pieces for Cello and Piano again show the influence of Schumann, if only in their structure, the short character pieces reminiscent of his friends, Three Romances Op.94. However, musically these pieces show him as an accomplished composer in his own right, the opening Arioso being like another song without words, whilst the central gavotte looks towards an earlier age, but with a definite romantic feel. The final Scherzo is a virtuosic little piece with some wonderfully lyrical bow work as well as a section of pizzicato writing.

The performance of Martin Rummel and Roland Krüger is excellent throughout these four works as they give ideal performances of each. They are able to extract the influences in the most Schumannesque sections of the earliest music, whilst making the most of Reinecke’s most original later compositions, which I, for one, find the most satisfying and endearing. Reinecke was a gifted composer, especially of chamber music, and Rummel and Krüger certainly show this in their spirited and virtuosic performances. They are backed up by very good recorded sound whilst the notes by Tully Potter are informative and make a great case for this music, something which is brought out in the performance of Rummel and Krüger. If you don’t know any of the music of Carl Reinecke then this disc would make a fine introduction.

Stuart Sillitoe

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