A Catalan tradition is brought to life by engaging performances

Dmitry Yablonsky: Catalan Cello Works

The Strad Issue: February 2024

Description: A Catalan tradition is brought to life by engaging performances

Musicians: Dmitry Yablonsky (cello) Laia Martín (piano)

Works: Casablancas: Cant per Frederic Mompou ‘Remembrança’. Casals: Romanza; Full d’album; Rêverie. Cassadó: Requiebros; Sonata nello stile antico Spagnuolo. Granados: Madrigal; Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor (arr.Marshall); Intermezzo (arr.Cassadó); Danza gallega. Mompou: La Filla del carmesí (arr.Cassadó)

Catalogue number: NAXOS 8.579097

A festival of both dramatic and reflective Catalan melodies sung out with elegance by Dmitry Yablonsky and Laia Martín characterises this warmly recorded release. Audiences traditionally love this music, not least the fiery Requiebros by cellist–composer Cassadó to which Yablonsky brings the right sort of bravura, mixed with nuanced expression in the more lyrical passages. You could certainly argue that both he and Casals forged a strong feeling for Catalan music through their performances, and, in particular, in the almost improvisatory-sounding cadenzas of Cassadó’s powerfully folk-inflected works. This includes the rarely heard but finely crafted Sonata nello stile antico spagnuolo whose striking variation-form finale is given a compelling interpretation from this duo.

A more hard-edged style is explored in the gritty short piece Remembrança by Benet Casablancas, the sole contemporary figure here. This more acerbic language is rapidly dispelled though by the French-influenced attractive short pieces by Casals which are idiomatically written for the cello in a style that is reminiscent of Fauré. But the finest music in this programme undoubtedly comes from Granados, whose intensity of expression and quality of invention are simply more memorable, with soaring melodies in Madrigal, and a sense of theatre in the Intermezzo from Goyescas. Both artists, in this warm recording, depict and characterise this music with an instinctive understanding of its idiom.