Marcy Rosen gives thoughtful performances of Grieg and Strauss

If you’re of a certain age, you may have fond memories of the Musical Heritage Society. The MHS was a record club that offered great music in strictly generic packaging. Originally the MHS licensed music from Erato and other classical labels. Eventually under their own label MusicMasters, they made their own recordings — like this release of Richard Strauss and Edvard Grieg cello sonatas with Marcy Rosen.

Richard Strauss was 19 when he wrote the Cello Sonata in F major. Marcy Rosen and Susan Walters lean heavily into the full-bodied Romantic harmonies and evocative melodies. Especially beautiful is their performance of the slow movement. The singing tone of Rosen’s cello brings out the expressive lyrism of the music.

Edvard Grieg’s Sonata was written a year earlier than Strauss’. Grieg was 39, and his sonata has a more mature sound. The emotional content is there, but it’s woven into the structure of the music rather than exposed on its surface.

Rosen and Walters deliver thoughtful performances. There are plenty of exciting passages, but overall I heard the music unfold in a calm, rational manner.

This is an excellent, albeit old, recording. The instruments are nicely balanced, and the overall sound is clear and clean. But the level of fine detail isn’t quite what one can get with modern digital recording equipment. That’s not a minus — it also imbues the sound with a natural warmth I found quite appealing.

Glad to have this one back in print.

Cello Sonatas of Richard Strauss and Edvard Grieg
Richard Strauss: Sonata in F major, Op. 6
Edvard Grieg: Sonata in A minor, Op. 36
Marcy Rosen, cello; Susan Walters, piano
Bridge Records 9512

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