Isserlis Energizes Martinu Sonatas

Steven Isserlis turns in an attractive program of cello music with this new SACD. Bohuslav Martinu wrote in a very distinctive style; one that was remarkably consistent throughout his long and prolific career. Martinu wrote tonal works, but they were his own version of tonality.

Dancing syncopation and shimmering chords are Martinu trademarks, and they’re here in abundance. Playing two or more of Martinu compositions back-to-back — especially ones using the same forces can have the effect of blurring them together. Isserlis avoids this by interspersing works by two composers whose styles complement Martinu’s, simultaneously providing contrast and creating a coherent program.

Jean Sibelius’ Malinconia, Op. 20 is a dark work, written after the death of the composer’s infant daughter. Isserlis convincingly brings out the pathos of the work, while at the same time savoring the beauty of Sibelius’ extended melodic lines.

Pianinst Olli Mustonen not only partners with Isserlis in these performances; he also provides a sonata as well. Mustonen’s post-romantic composition fits in nicely with the Martinu and Sibelius works, with plenty of rich sonorities and juicy melodic tidbits.

Isserlis has recorded these works before, and this time he doesn’t hold back. Martinu’s music has a certain lightness to it, but Isserlis makes it more compelling by really digging into the notes. The urgent character his technique brings to these works makes them, in my opinion, some of the best recorded versions of Martinu’s cello sonatas to date. And if you have an opportunity, listen to this release through an SACD player. The intimate nature of this chamber music becomes all the more vivid with the additional sonic details the format provides.

Bohuslav Martinu: Cello Sonatas 1-3; Works by Sibelius and Mustonen
Steven Isserlis, cello; Olli Mostonen, piano
BIS SACD

More Recent Posts

  • Zdenek Fibich overtures delight

    Zdenek Fibich was almost an exact contemporary of Antonin Dovrak. And like his fellow Czech, Fibish’s music in infused with the energy of his country’s folk music. Volume Four of Naxos’ ongoing traversal of Fibich’s orchestral music is perhaps the most exciting installment so far. The disc collects several of Fibich’s overtures, as well as […]

  • jazz adds january 27, 2015

    billy bang.  da bang.  tum.  Posthumous release from jazz violinist/ Vietnam vet billy bang ( 1947-2011), working with quintet:   dick griffin (trom), andrew bemkey on piano; hilliard greene, double-bass;  newman taylor-baker@drums.  gorgeous lyricism, and innovation from legend of the 1970’s NYC jazz “loft” scene;  a reluctant violinist, bang took a turbulent path (drugs, PTSD, […]

  • New Blues News – 1/27/2015

    New Blues News New Blues Adds: Mike Henderson Band – If You Think It’s Hot Here…. (EllerSoul): If you like straight-forward, no frills, it-will-knock-you-flat-on-your-rusty-dusty electric blues, then all you need to know is that Mike Henderson has a new blues disc out.  He plays a ’59 Fender Bassman, great slide, and has a blues shout […]

  • WTJU Sponsors Corsair “One Eyed Horse” Album Release Concert

    Two years after their first album, Corsair have returned with a new album, “One Eyed Horse,” set to release on February 24. The self-described early metal, heavy rock group will celebrate their new release with a concert on February 20th at the Main Street Annex in Charlottesville, Va. You can preview a track off the album and […]

  • Koppel marimba concertos welcome additions to repertoire

    The marimba can easily be an instrument of cliche, primarily because of it’s close association with Latino music (think: Baja Marimba Band). Danish composer Anders Koppel approaches the instrument from a slightly different direction. Some if it may be due to The marimba is often an instrument of cliché, primarily because of its close association […]

  • Jan 31 Gather ‘Round: Martha Scanlan, Dirk Powell, & The Stuart Brothers (2007)

    Gather ‘Round each Saturday night from 8-9 for WTJU Folk‘s concert series; both archived and live. There will be shows from The Prism Coffeehouse and VA Folklife archives mixed in with some from our announcers’ own libraries. And you never know when a live concert might pop up!  This week’s program comes from a 2007 […]