Solo Cello Sonatas by Crumb, Hindemith, Kodály & Prokofiev; plus works by Casals and Henze
Daniel Müller-Schott (cello)
Orfeo C 984 191 72:45 mins
Kodály’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello is an ‘Everest’ work which, in live performance, divides the great from the good. To sustain a dynamic but flawless performance of this fiendish, 30-minute score in the studio is an even greater challenge. Daniel Müller-Schott is without doubt a master cellist: this is a big, imperious reading, if at times over-emphatic. There’s a sense even in the opening phrase that individual notes are being shouted out rather than allowed to sing, though the recorded cello sound is exceptionally full and fine. While he brings febrile drama and mystery to the first two movements, there’s a tendency to micro-manage which begins to get in the way. In the Allegro molto vivace the brakes are on: this is a full minute longer than János Starker’s 1987 performance. Müller-Schott is just too focused on creating a monumental finale to let the frenzied dance run free.
His muscular, emphatic approach suits the high seriousness of Hindemith’s Sonata, Op. 25 No. 3, but falls down in Henze’s delightful, rarely-heard Serenade. This string of pearls, originally written to accompany a production of Much ado about nothing, requires fantasy and effortless mischief: Müller-Schott grips Henze’s miniatures too tightly, the humour feels forced. George Crumb’s elegant, gnomic 1955 Sonata, though, benefits from his sustained legato line.
Bonus tracks include Prokofiev’s wistful, janus-faced solo Sonata, beautifully and simply given here, and Müller-Schott’s own impressive cadenza, a passionate love letter to his instrument.