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

  • Symposium: College Radio and Fostering a Vibrant Community — Friday, March 17

    WTJU is proud to present the symposium: “College Radio and Fostering a Vibrant Community” Friday, March 17, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM OpenGrounds at UVA. 1400 University Avenue, Charlottesville College radio has been part of the broadcast landscape as long as broadcasting itself. This symposium will bring together scholars and creators of college and non-commercial […]

  • New Blues News – 1/17/2017

    New Blues News – 1/17/2017 Ronnie Baker Brooks – Times Have Changed (Provogue): This new disc is Ronnie Baker Brooks’ first for Provogue and it seems that it is the realization of his recording goal of the past twenty years: “My whole intention, when I started with “Golddigger” (1998) and up through this one, was […]

  • Romancing the Viola – Haken performs his works

    This is a great time for classical music. It’s not only post-tonal, but it’s post-atonal as well. Composers don’t have to worry about sounding new-fangled or old-fashioned. They just have to create music that’s worth listening to. That thought came to me as I listened to this recording. Rudolf Haken’s musical language is just a […]

  • “Soup! There It Is” cook off to benefit WTJU

    Join WTJU for our first-ever soup cook-off fundraiser! Sunday, February 26 at 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM Fry’s Spring Beach Club 2512 Jefferson Park Ave in Charlottesville It’s kinda like the chili cook-offs you know about, but with a twist. Your ticket supports excellent community radio and gets you: 1) Tastings of all the soups […]

  • Taarka stop by WTJU, Jan 20

    Described by San Francisco Weekly as a “collision of Django Reinhardt and David Grisman,” Colorado quartet Taarka will stop by the WTJU studios this Friday afternoon, at 4 (est) for a live performance in our lounge.  Later that evening, they will put on a concert at C’Ville Coffee presented by The Prism Coffeehouse in partnership […]