Virtuoso and dramatic exploration of a century of solo cello music

Christoph Croisé: The Solo Album

The Strad Issue: November 2021

Description: Virtuoso and dramatic exploration of a century of solo cello music

Musicians: Christoph Croisé (cello)

Works: Kodály: Solo Sonata. Ligeti: Sonata for Solo Cello. Croisé: Spring Promenade. Sollima: Alone; Concerto Rotondo for solo cello. Buritch: Some Like to Show It Off. Pejtsik: Stonehenge

Catalogue number: AVIE AV2466

The past hundred years have witnessed a dramatic widening of the cello vernacular. Bar the Ligeti, all the works on this enterprising and warmly recorded disc were written by professional cellists conversant with these developments. Kodály’s 1915 Solo Sonata, for example, already uses advanced techniques. Here the vernacular draws inspiration from Hungarian folk music assimilated into a highly personal language. The main problem with this giant work comes in the last movement, making the sections blend together in a dramatic forward momentum. Christoph Croisé’s virtuoso skill absorbs the challenges with flair, but in fast passagework can sometimes lose a little clarity in effecting a sense of improvisatory rubato. A similar issue comes in the Capriccio from Ligeti’s Sonata where the instruction ‘Presto con slancio’ invites the soloist to go full pelt. But here it sounds a bit breathless, the all-important semitonal oscillations somewhat obscured.

The second group of works on this disc utilise virtuoso technique but in a jazzier format. Croisé’s chirpy Spring Promenade perhaps recalls the highly effective pedagogical works of Aaron Minsky. Sollima’s Concerto Rotondo successfully fuses scordatura and electronics to effect a delay and canonic effect. Pejtsik’s Stonehenge is conceived in a kind of fusion rock style and brilliantly performed. But undoubtedly Buritch’s Some Like to Show It Off literally steals the show, with Croisé dazzling in delivering this virtuosic encore. This is a great exploration of diverse contemporary works for solo cello.