Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1972)
Suite Italienne (1932/1933) [18:26] Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918)
Cello Sonata in D minor (1915) [11:45] Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
Cello Sonata No.2 in F, op.99 (1886) [28:14] Ennio MORRICONE (b
Oboe (The Mission) (1986) [3:22]
Suzanne Beer (cello); Gareth Hancock (piano)
rec. details not given. DDD DIVINE ART DDA25068
disk contains some of the finest, and strongest, most purposeful,
cello playing I’ve heard in a long time. Indeed, so forthright
is the playing, and so intense her interpretations, that
I was immediately reminded of the young Jacqueline du Pré.
Ms Beer can stand that somewhat extravagant comment for
she proves it with every note she plays.
always regarded Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne as
a piece of his neo–baroque nonsense and not really worthy
of my attention. I must now reconsider my position for
here it turns up fresh and alive, the notes jumping off
the page in every bar in this spry and very vivacious account.
The Introduction and Finale provide fine
examples of Ms Beer’s strong bowing arm, while the Serenata is
as cool as a mountain stream. The Aria is one long
melody from beginning to end and Ms Beer lavishes all her
romantic attention on it only to dispel the mood of love
with a sparkling Tarantella.
Debussy’s Sonata is
one of the joys of the cello repertoire; it’s elusive and
magical and a towering masterpiece of the genre. Debussy
originally wanted to call the piece Pierrot fait fou
avec la lune (Pierrot angry with the moon) and
there’s a lot of railing in the work – albeit tempered
by the writing for the instruments and the material used.
Listen to the way Ms Beer phrases the opening fanfare idea
at 2:15 after emerging from a short passage of accompaniment
to the piano; absolutely well placed and as exciting as
anything on this disk. The pizzicato scherzo is
hesitant and mysterious, while the finale romps along in
good humour. This Pierrot certainly isn’t angry with the
moon, he is truly reveling in the moonlight!
Brahms’s Second Sonata immediately
follows the Fourth Symphony and is built in the
same mould, in blocks of granite but with a melodic heart
of gold. Beer’s treatment of the work is both bold and
delicately lyrical – just listen to how she phrases the
trio of the third movement Scherzo, and how she is happy
to take a step backwards and allow the piano to take the
lead. And marvel at their handling of the scherzo section
itself, it’s very modern in its approach but also very
Brahmsian. This is superb stuff and thrilling music making.
The slow movement is very well paced, the lyricism soaring
from Beer’s cello, full bowed and full of the singing quality
which is unique to the instrument, whilst her pizzicato
accompaniment to the piano is beautifully discreet and
well placed. The finale has a lovely easy going feel to
it and the tempo is perfect for it allows the music to
speak clearly. This is a fine performance.
Oboe, from his soundtrack score for The Mission,
is a delightful encore piece, unpretentious and charming,
and a real pleasure after the hothouse music making which
recording is bright and clear with a very good balance
between the instruments. It was a real pleasure to report
on this disk for everything about it – performance, recording
etc – commands our attention. Suzanne Beer is a fine artist
and we should hear much more of her.
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