COMPOSERS: Franz Schubert,Johannes Brahms
LABELS: Evil Penguin Records Classic
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms • Schubert
WORKS: Schubert: Introduction & Variations on Trockne Blumen; Sonatina in A minor; Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 1
PERFORMER: Pieter Wispelwey (cello), Paolo Giacometti (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Evil Penguin Records Classic EPRC 0021
Pieter Wispelwey’s restless creativity has made him one of the great pioneer-cellists of our time. In this, the second instalment of a project to claim the duos of Brahms and Schubert for the cello, he teeters on the edge of impossibility. In his notes, he argues that the cello is a natural voice for these two giants of the lied; but is this grounds for appropriating the flute’s ‘Trockne Blumen’ variations? In fact, he finds enough in the troubling lied from Die schöne Müllerin to justify the experiment. Certainly, there are variations where frothing streams of notes are better suited to the flute, and sound effortful here; but he brings a depth and tension to Schubert’s fleeting, shadowy visions which the more neutral flute cannot quite achieve, and the triumphant finale truly glitters. Here, and in Schubert’s starkly radical Sonatina D385, Paolo Giacometti’s nuanced and velvety pianism provides the perfect foil to the silver fragility of Wispelwey’s tone. With such shimmering overtones high on the A string, it’s easy to forget you are listening to a cello at all, rather than some kind of giant violin.
His Brahms E minor Sonata is as touchingly direct as a child’s solemn stare, refined, lucidly-argued with a feather-light intermezzo and febrile fugue. There are times in the more intense passages of the first movement when the tearing sound of bow on string is a strain, but there’s no doubting Wispelwey’s depth of engagement.