The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Climate Changes. Poulenc: Cello Sonata. Debussy: Cello Sonata. Fontyn: Six Climats. Messiaen: ‘Louange à l’éternité de Jésus’ from Quatuor pour la fin du Temps
Novel programming marred by slapdash Messiaen
Monday, 01 August 2011
Jan Pas (cello) Stefano Vismara (piano)
Poulenc, Debussy, Fontyn, Messiaen
EVIL PENGUIN RECORDS CLASSIC EPRC 009 (CD, plus DVD)
This CD is something of a curate’s egg, with three decent performances followed by a fourth, of the ‘Louange à l‘éternité de Jésus’ from Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, which shouldn’t have got out of the studio. There are two rhythmical howlers, with both performers bizarrely cutting a semiquaver out of one bar and the cello moving a semiquaver early in another; Jan Pas ignores the ‘sans vibrato’ instruction in Messiaen’s meticulously marked score and produces some clumsy bow changes on long notes, all too audible in this close recording, before fizzling out altogether in the last bar.
Elsewhere, he makes a persuasive case for Poulenc’s under-appreciated sonata, gracefully shaping the lyrical paragraphs and skilfully negotiating the abrupt sidesteps and fragmented sequences. There is beautiful veiled cantilena playing at the end of the Cavatine. Debussy’s Sonata also has its twists and turns, which Pas subtly moulds together in an essentially warm and lyrical performance. Jacqueline Fontyn’s Six Climats of 1972, a set of short studies for students, is nicely played. The DVD contains a documentary about Pas, complete with proud parents, a movement from the Poulenc followed by a chat to camera, and a candle-lit performance of the Debussy. The track times of the last two are switched on the booklet listing, as is the running order.
From the August 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.