WORKS: Cello Sonata in F; Cello Sonata
PERFORMER: Sophie Rolland (cello), Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 913 DDD
A remarkable new cello and piano partnership turns out to be the best reason for investigating this disc, but curiosity value is the bait. Ludwig Thuille was the school friend and fellow composer Strauss later described as ‘probably the greatest influence on my development (through the exchange of ideas and through mutual competition)’. Thuille must surely have approved the 19-year-old Strauss’s bracing if unoriginal Cello Sonata, though by the time he came to write his own some twenty years later, he had long since turned into a ‘strict contrapuntalist’ (Strauss’s words again) who could only shake his head when Strauss finally did find his own true voice in the tone poems.
The Thuille Sonata, as it turns out, is fusty stuff, hardly a child of its turn-of-the-century time; but Sophie Rolland and her level-pegging pianist Marc-André Hamelin, keep the rodomontade on the move and turn in a surprisingly crisp, dancing finale. Robert Maycock’s note rightly points out that Strauss’s is ‘a work to play… on the same tide of youthful energy and enthusiasm that the composition is bursting with.’ Rolland and Hamelin do just that, and more: they make us take the unexpected pause for reflection in the first movement seriously and steer clear of boisterous self-assertion without stinting on high spirits. Beethoven sonatas next, please. David Nice