The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Rococo Cello Variations. Beethoven: Variations on ‘Bei Männern’ WoO46, Variations on ‘Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen’ op.66. Gemrot: Ludwigsgruss, Variations on a Theme of Dvořák. Martinů: Variations on a Slovak Folk Song, Variations on a Theme of Rossini
A worthwhile exploration of cello variations let down by poor sound
Sunday, 26 August 2012
Jeremy Findlay (cello) Per Rundberg (piano)
Beethoven, Gemrot, Martinů
PRAGA DIGITALS PRD/DSD 250293
The concept of recording cello variations written across three centuries makes for interesting listening, and reveals the extent to which composers have progressively become freer in their use of their original themes. In the case of Beethoven one can easily follow Mozart’s operatic arias as they give rise to the variations. For Martinů, the themes act more as a catalyst for building personal scores full of the composer’s highly distinctive harmonic language. And in two recent works by Jiří Gemrot (b.1957) themes by Beethoven and Dvořák are wrapped up in a readily attractive modernity.
By using a very simple and unadorned tonal quality for the Beethoven, Jeremy Findlay also points to the development of cello technique from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day, where he can explore the full range of sounds required. In the Gemrot, technical hurdles are brushed aside with agility and the wide range of dynamics for which the composer calls. Findlay has an excellent partnership with the Swedish pianist Per Rundberg, and their interplay in the Beethoven and Martinů is perfectly weighted.
The Prague church acoustic is not so comfortable to the ears, as it gives a hollow sound and a cutting edge to the cello in loud passages.
From the August 2012 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.