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Duo Arnicans
rec. 2017, Kirche Oberstrass, Zürich
SOLO MUSICA SM288 [71.04]

In 2015 Duo Arnicans released an inspiring album of works for cello and piano from Chopin and Dohnányi (review). Now the Zürich based partnership has released a collection titled ‘Enchanted’ of twenty-four works which are mainly arrangements prepared for cello and piano from the originals.

The eighteen composers selected from the collection range from J.S. Bach to Piazzolla and Mendelssohn to Jānis Ķepītis. All composers are represented by a single work except for Elgar with two pieces and Falla with his six-work Suite populaire espagnole. Only two works are not for cello and piano, the first being Casals’ Song of the Birds for solo cello and Jāzeps’ Hushaby, Hushaby Bear Cubs for solo piano.

Emphasis in the booklet notes is given to performing music that “lulled you to sleep when you were little” and to “sing a lullaby to a child yourself.” It seems that this nostalgic subject and the healing qualities of music were the inspiration behind Duo Arnicans making this album. So, it’s not surprising that, with a few exceptions, the selected works do inhabit a generally calmer world, often of reflection and nostalgia. In fact, the final section of the programme consists of serenades and lullabies including pieces by Latvian composers, Jāzeps Vītols and Jānis Ķepītis, Arta Arnicane’s country of birth.

Every track is enjoyable with several that are exceptionally well performed. The two Elgar salon pieces, the unpretentious Chanson de matin and the richer Chanson de la nuit originally for violin and piano, with such persuasive playing creates a relaxed, elegant mood. The earliest work on the album the Arioso from J.S. Bach’s Cantata, BWV 156 is rendered with purity and restraint. From Falla’s Suite populaire espagnole the fourth piece titled Polo is spiritedly performed, and I enjoy the soothing quality given to Schumann’s Abendlied (Evening Song) one of his set of Klavierstücke für kleine und große Kinder. This is subtle and rather understated playing from Duo Arnicans with cellist Florian Arnicans avoiding squeezing every ounce of emotion out of the writing.

From Kirche Oberstrass, Zürich the piano and cello have been satisfying recorded to a quality that is clear and well balanced. Combining top drawer performances of beauty and sincerity Duo Arnicans is very much at home with this collection titled ‘Enchanting’.

Michael Cookson

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
01. Chanson de matin, Op. 15, No. 2 (arr. for cello and piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
02. Arioso from Cantata BWV 156, No. 1 (arr. for cello and piano)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
03. Ständchen, D. 957, No. 4 (arr. for cello and piano)
Janis MEDINS (1890-1966)
04. Aria (arr. for cello and piano)
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
05. Lied ohne Worte, Op. 109
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
06. Melodie, Op. 55, No. 4 (arr. for cello and piano)
Josef SUK (1874-1935)
07. Serenade, Op. 3, No. 2
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
08. Élégie, IJM 67 (arr. for cello and piano)
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1973)
09. Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 (arr. for cello and piano)
Pablo CASALS (1876-1973)
10. Song of the Birds, for solo cello
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
11. Piece en forme d'Habanera (arr. for cello and piano from Vocalise-Étude en forme de Habanera, for voice & piano, M. 51)
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Suite populaire espagnole:
12. I. El pano moruno (arr. for cello and piano)
13. II. Nana (arr. for cello and piano)
14. III. Canción (arr. for cello and piano)
15. IV. Polo (arr. for cello and piano)
16. V. Asturiana (arr. for cello and piano)
17. VI. Jota (arr. for cello and piano)
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
18. Ave Maria (arr. for cello and piano)
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
19. Romance, Op. 78, No. 2
Jazeps VITOLS (1863-1948)
20. Hushaby, Hushaby Bear Cubs, Op. 29, No. 4 (for solo piano)
Janis KEPITIS (1908 - 1989)
21. Lullaby for an Active Little Boy
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
22. Abendlied, Op. 85, No. 12 (arr. for cello and piano)
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
23. Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4 (arr. for cello and piano)
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
24. Chanson de la nuit, Op. 15, No. 1 (arr. for cello and piano)

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