This CD was originally recorded by ArtistLed, the soloist's own company,
for release with the January 1997 issue of BBC Music Magazine. It deservedly
received much genuine praise.
I can only add my equally sincere approval to such valid assessments. Here
we have taken two artistes of enormous musicality and, quite frankly, the
best cello and piano duo I have ever heard or ever hope to hear. I first
came across David Finckel in the Emerson Quartet's set of the Beethoven String
Quartets, masterly, unbeatable performances, alive, enthusiastic and not
trammelled by Teutonic seriousness.
I have always been particularly interested in this repertoire as my first
girlfriend, also an Oriental as is Wu Han, and I used to perform such works.
Sadly, Ngoc died tragically and these performances have brought back some
precious memories. There is something more intimate about the cello than
any other musical instrument, possibly because of its having to be so close
to the body, and what we have in this duo is an enveloping intimacy. Their
recordings are living and you can share in its closeness and intimacy; it
is something very special, private and personal. It constitutes real and
unforgettable music experiences.
Knowing these works so well I am fully qualified to say that they are all
played with superlative excellence, an extraordinary and exhilarating excitement
and a beauty beyond compare. The sensitive and tender music is never reduced
to self-indulgence and uncivilised pleasure à la Jacqueline du Pré.
The skill, technique and secure playing ability of both of them is matched
by their amazing capacity to understand the hidden depths of the music. The
performances are creative, inspiring and highly stimulating and splendid
new discoveries. I believe that Chopin's Sonata in G minor, Op 65
is his finest work and this glowing performance testifies to that value
judgement. It portrays a real duo ... himself and George Sand. It is on a
large scale lasting about half-an-hour. The opening allegro moderato
reminds me of the opening of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in F sharp, Op 78.
The movement has a marvellous contrast and, however paradoxical it is to
say this, it is stormily beautiful. It teems with rain and melody. The
scherzo has a fascinating momentum and is played with staggering panache.
The largo is gorgeous and the final allegro, which
may be the least satisfactory movement, is described in the
accompanying booklet as a 'roller coaster' ride.
Intimacy, and indeed, romance is at the heart of the Schumann. It is most
imaginative and gloriously rendered here.
The Greig is a sunny piece in the main, although it has a stormy first movement.
The slow movement has moments of surprising beauty and the finale dances
along. How like the Piano Concerto it is ... also in A minor, and
the device of the slow movement appearing in the finale is repeated here.
A rare and soul-satisfying disc.