Phoenix Story

Peter Larsen
3MBS FM Libretto (Australia)

In Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65, the quintessence of Romanticism, the cello tone-quality is exceptionally fine. Piano playing is crisp and incisive, ensemble work throughout is impeccable.

In movement 1, the dramatic quality of the development is convincingly realised. In the second movement, a song-like Scherzo, cello has the main role; the spirit of the Trio contrasts appropriately. The third movement is essentially an uninterrupted melody, the intimate dialogue presented discreetly and tastefully. In movement 4, piano writing is distinctive; not entirely characteristic of Chopin. Equal dialogue characterises the playing as the work moves to its vigorous and rhapsodic conclusion.

Performances in Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.19, are excellent.

In movement 1 performers adapt sensitively to the contrasting moods; the power of the playing in sturm und drang sections compels attention. Movement 2: The memorable singing theme contrasts brilliantly with the omnipresent rhythmic figure. In movement 3, nostalgic and ultra-Romantic, the playing is notable for the interaction between the parts.

Elena Kats-Chernin’s Phoenix Story: In the first movement, 'Tears', a short but attractive ostinato motif, sometimes with double-stopping, persists. The unaccompanied cellos create a remarkably resonant sound. The pulse changes; the melodic line, intensely lyrical, becomes passionate, rising to ecstatic heights. Double stopping returns; the ostinato figure is heard against held chords. The movement ends serenely. In 'Courting the Dragon', a dance-like ostinato figure, displaying a variety of pitches and rhythmic figures, continues throughout, sometimes for one, sometimes for both instruments. Against this pattern a high, beautiful and wide-ranging theme evolves. As the rhythm changes, new bowing patterns emerge. A kind of moto perpetuo, the movement ends unexpectedly and abruptly.


This CD, notable for its tone quality, variety and musicianship, is highly recommended.