The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Dohnányi: Cello Sonata in B flat minor op.8. Kodály: Cello Sonata op.4. Strauss: Cello Sonata in F major op.6
Wednesday, 01 July 2009
Nancy Green (cello) Tannis Gibson (piano)
Dohnányi, Kodály, Strauss
JRI Recordings J 123 (www.jrirecordings.com)
Nancy Green brings a boldly dramatic delivery to these three fine sonatas, with fluent and forthright performances that are enhanced by her clear and vocally orientated feeling for the musical line. It’s a pity, though, that she is somewhat let down by a rather unsophisticated recording that places her booming yet rich 1732 Testore cello too far forward in relation to the piano. This might perhaps account for a somewhat limited dynamic range in her playing, which in places fails to convey much audible difference between pianos and fortes. Much of the Dohnányi suffers from this problem and there is also a tendency to over-accent the start of a bar or a down bow. One notable exception is the Mendelssohnian Scherzo, which has some magical moments.
Green’s bravura style of playing, however, works particularly effectively in the slow monologue that opens the Kodály Sonata – a passage that needs every ounce of theatre to bring it across. Moreover, in the stop-start finale her sense of line certainly ensures that there is a connecting thread. The Strauss, on the other hand, could have benefited from a greater variety of colours and a more rigorous adherence to the composer’s markings. For example, although the fugato development section in the first movement sounds effective and exciting, a more whispered tone in the pianissimo passages would have provided the necessary contrast and character foil to the flamboyant opening. Likewise, the ensuing Andante needs a darker character and a more careful observation of the numerous hairpins that add to the subtlety of phrase.
From the July 2009 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.