Bach, Kurt‡g, Halffter, etc

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,etc,Halffter,Kurtag
LABELS: Arte Nova
ALBUM TITLE: Cello Portrait
WORKS: Works by Bach, Kurtág, Halffter,
PERFORMER: Beate Altenburg (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 82876 58142 2
Beate Altenburg certainly makes the most of the dance element of Bach’s Sixth Cello Suite, with light, focused, rhythmic playing that has a real spring in its step. Even in the Sarabande, which can be so pulled about that you lose sight of its basic three-in-a-bar beat, her sensitive rubato is contained within a real pulse, and the Gavottes and Gigue burst with an energy which is hard to resist. There’s sensitivity, too, in the five short Kurtág pieces of Signs, Games and Messages, where the moods are instantly caught, whether in the wide-ranging lyrical line of ‘Az hit’, or the nocturnal skitterings of ‘Arnyak’. At almost 19 minutes, Halffter’s Solo is the most extended work here, and Altenburg shows complete confidence in its technical demands: whether in her accuracy in double trills, articulation of fast-moving lines which encompass the whole instrument, or the way she maintains the tension of the final sul ponticello section with an acute sense of phrasing, dynamic and tonal control. After that, Vassiliev’s Alter ego seems more limited as a piece, though it does give Altenburg a forum for spinning a flexible legato melody. As does the Jolivet Suite en concert, the most lyrical music on the CD, with gestures that sometimes hark back to Bach. A well-planned programme, and an impressive solo debut. Martin Cotton