COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov; Chopin
ALBUM TITLE: Rachmaninov , Chopin
WORKS: Rachmaninov: Cello Sonata, Op. 19; Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14; Chopin: Polonaise brilliante in C, Op. 3
PERFORMER: Natalie Clein (cello), Charles Owen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 366 9382
Both the Chopin and Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas require the pianist to be both a sensitive chamber musician and a strongly defined soloist capable of dazzling us in the manner of a concerto soloist. Owen certainly fulfils the first of these demands, perfectly matching the ebb and flow of Clein’s melodic lines, but seems more inhibited when it comes to creating soloistic variety. Perhaps EMI’s dry recording shoulders some of the blame for this but at the opening of the glorious Andante of the Rachmaninov, for example, Owen’s tone and voicing is nowhere near as sensuous as it might be.
Even so, the performances are for the most part convincing, Clein responding with passion and intensity to Rachmaninov’s heartfelt melodies. With the added bonus Chopin’s Polonaise brilliante and a wonderfully mellow Vocalise, this generously filled disc seems like a very attractive proposition. But for a larger-than-life performance of the Chopin, opt for Rostropovich and Argerich, their ensemble operating at a different level of musical intensity. Likewise, in the Rachmaninov, Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough negotiate the dramatic pace of the music more convincingly than here. Erik Levi