STRAUSS: Cello Sonata in F. GRIEG: Cello Sonata in A / Marcy Rosen, cel; Susan Walters, pno / Bridge 9512
Normally I’m not a big fan of Romantic music, and although I do like Strauss the cello sonata is a very early work from 1883 when he was only 19 years old, but both cellist Marcy Rosen and pianist Susan Walters play it and the Grieg sonata with a great deal of affection and emotional commitment. Indeed, in a way I felt as if the pianist was the real driving force in this duo, as she continually pushed the beat forward to create a sense of urgency in even the most commonplace passages.
Rosen has a fine tone and plays with suavity, which is a good way to approach these works. One of the flaws of the Strauss sonata is its repetition of what are essentially plain and uninteresting Romantic themes. (My regular readers know that except for the greatest composers of that era, I am pretty much allergic to Romantic music, which I find affecting and stuffy. The second movement of the Strauss sonata is a perfect example of that.) The final Allegro, however, is a bit more interesting. I noted that despite Rosen’s fine tone, she does not play with much brightness, which for me softens the impact of the more energetic passages.
The Grieg sonata is a more mature work, written when the composer was 39, and better developed than the early Strauss work. It is in one of Grieg’s favorite keys, a minor, the same in which his much earlier piano concerto was written, but here the more mature composer does more with his material. This is really an interesting and well-developed work, again played with a soft tone and lyrical effusion by Rosen and more kinetic energy by Walters. The cellist does, however, reveal an excellent depth of tone in the slow movement, and when the last movement finally gets going, Walters pushes Rosen with some incisive playing.
An interesting CD, then, if you enjoy this style of music.
—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley
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