Bulgarian cellist Kalin Ivanov, a protégé of David Soyer and Nathaniel Rosen, provides some impressive realizations of standard repertory in this Gega CD, ably and sensitively assisted by Emily White, a piano student of Sascha Gorodnitzky, among others. Ivanov sports a marvelous, rich tone, so that the romantic theme in the Barber Sonata’s first movement achieves a poetic luminosity – quite touching. Comparisons with Gregor Piatagorsky follow naturally, and Ivanov does not suffer thereby. Chaste application of vibrato reveals Ivanov’s refined taste, which permits the music to unfold without cloying sentimentality. Where nobility of line marks the second movement, and impassioned declamation the third. White’s piano part, intensely knotty and chromatic at moments, proceeds in lucid, intelligent riffs.
Vivaldi’s E Minor Sonata provides a soulful, textural contrast, alternatively plaintive and animated. Ivanov’s cantilena and trills emanate a graceful fastidiousness to rhythmic and color detail. Corelli’s influence remains evident in every bar. A lachrymose Largo yields to a jaunty Allegro, all forward motion, Ivanov sawing away in spirited rapture. But the real meeting of true minds occurs in the Schumann tryptich, where both Ivanov and White cast off the trappings of respectability and indulge our senses with suggestive ensemble. The shifting, vibrant colors pass all too quickly, their personal tracery and allusions woven into the fabric of their tender character. The first of the two cello sonatas of Brahms (1865) makes allusions to Bach’s The Art of Fugue; and, typical of Brahms, it reveals a fierce passion constrained by classical procedures. Ivanov’s singing tone is at full throttle, and he justifies his personal fondness for the art of the late Daniel Shafran, whose own, studied sound Ivanov’s cello recalls. White’s piano might be a bit subdued in the engineering process by Joseph Patrych, but the ardent spirit of the composer is never compromised.