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Dutch Cello Sonatas – Volume 8
Georg Hendrik WITTE (1843-1929)
Cello Sonata in D minor, Op. 15 (1882) [31:15]
Three Pieces for cello and piano, Op. 14 (1882) [16:26]
Wouter HUTSCHENRUYTER (1859-1943)
Cello Sonata, Op. 4 (1882) [23:34]
Doris Hochscheid (cello), Frans van Ruth (piano)
rec. 2018, Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster
MDG AUDIOMAX SACD 903 2094-6 [71:14]

Quietly but tenaciously, cellist Doris Hochscheid and pianist Frans van Ruth have reached the eighth volume in their Dutch cello sonata series. Röntgen, Badings and Pijper may be well enough known, even if their cello works aren’t, but this exploratory trove includes cellist-composers such as Joseph Hollman and Gérard Hekking and pianist-composer Dirk Schäfer, to say nothing of van Goens, Escher, Vermeulen, Batta and numerous others. Now it’s the turn of Witte and Hutschenruyter in a volume I enjoyed from first note to last.

Georg Hendrik Witte was born in Utrecht, son of a German organ builder. He studied in The Hague and then in Leipzig with the expected raft of worthies – Moscheles and Reinecke included – before settling in Essen and taking Prussian nationality. This is where he wrote the two works here, in around 1882. The Sonata is heard in the revised version that Witte made and kept in his private papers and that have now been incorporated in the latest edition of the work. The opening is stormy and passionate in echt-Romantic spirit but it also flows lyrically in a confident post-Schumannesque way. The ripe chorale in the central slow movement is accompanied by stalking piano figures, the cello sidling into a more animated role in the trio; athletic, confident, exciting. The flighty Rondo is full of verve, invigorating rhythms and sheer jollity. Clearly patterned after Schumann’s Drei Phantasie-Stücke, Witte’s Three Pieces reveal beautifully calibrated distribution of melody writing between the two instruments, the cello’s expressive cantabile being exploited to the full. Where vigour is called for Witte provides it and where passion is demanded he serves up a feast of it in the last of the pieces. Some may find them a trifle conventional but when they are characterised as astutely as here, surely no one would fail to be charmed by them.

Wouter Hutschenruyter came from a musical dynasty in Rotterdam. He was taught briefly by Woldemar Bargiel but principally by Friedrich Gernsheim. He carved out a successful compositional career as well as becoming associate conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. His own Sonata, composed in the same year as Witte’s, opens with a long-breathed Adagio that generates a considerable lyric charge as it intensifies in feeling. It is unwaveringly attractive as is the courtly elegance of the scherzo, a charming dance with a square-jawed B-section to add contrast. After that a Molto Allegro appassionato seems called for and this is what we get; striding confidence if conveyed via more conventional means than in the first two movements.

Hochscheid and van Ruth continue their thoroughly worthwhile and imaginative journey in style. These are fully committed and sensitive performances and they have been well recorded. The pianist contributes the well-researched and imaginative booklet notes which includes beautifully reproduced photographic reproductions of both composers. This is another winner in this series – and one of the best yet.

Jonathan Woolf

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