WIDOR: Suite in E Minor, Op. 21; Cello Sonata in A Major, Op. 80; VIERNE: Cello Sonata in B Minor, Op. 27 – Peter Bruns, cello/Annegret Kuttner, piano – Hanssler Classic

by | Oct 30, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

WIDOR: Suite in E Minor, Op. 21; Cello Sonata in A Major, Op. 80; VIERNE: Cello Sonata in B Minor, Op. 27 – Peter Bruns, cello/Annegret Kuttner, piano – Hanssler Classic  98.294 , 59:05 [Distrib. by Allegro] ****:

That Charles-Marie Widor’s musical catalogue embraces works beyond his noted symphonies for solo organ came as news to me: his Suite in E Minor (c. 1911) displays the kind of restrained elegance we might assign to Saint-Saens. A mere eight minutes in length, it exploits the songful character of the cello, a lively Appassionato movement braced on either side by a Meditation and a Canzonetta. The Op. 80 A Major Sonata exhibits harmonic audacities of a kind we might mistake for Faure or the modal explorations of D’Indy. The piano part, built of cascades and purring arpeggios, adds a liquid element to the arias the cello pours forth. The middle of the Allegro moderato varies the rhythm and sonority, beckoning both brittle and clangorous sounds. Suave artistry from Peter Bruns (26-30 July 2007), a Berlin student of Peter Vogler. The angular melody of the Andante con moto becomes a source of variation, the often nasal tone-colors reminiscent of Reger and Brahms as much as anything Gallic. The melos achieves a noble simplicity, a song without words. The last variation and tiny coda have the cello strum like an Old World Trouvere courting his lady. The last-movement Allegro vivace engages in extroverted, Debussy-sounding filigree, bright with a touch of autumn leaves. The piano part asserts itself vehemently at times, proving the fingers of Annegret Kuttner quite nimble. The late pages of this movement are all Faure, if you were to “drop the stylus” and ask me. We must thank engineer Jens Schuenemann for the warm, balanced sonic patina that captures the often fiery ambiance of these inscriptions.


Louis Vierne (1870-1937), Widor’s prize pupil at St. Sulpice, composed his Op. 27 Sonata in B-flat Minor in 1911 for Pablo Casals. A model of classical poise, it reveals an idiomatic sense of the cello, bestowing upon the principals a number of tenderly wrought, modally shaped melodies in the opening movement. The bravura piano part might owe a few debts to Beethoven’s virtuosity. The second movement, marked Molto largamente, exerts a formal gloom, somewhat in the manner of Cesar Franck, especially when that composer wants to echo moments in Bach. Several times figures from Schumann’s Des Abends wafted between the two instruments. The last movement Risoluto audaciously maneuvers 5/4 and 4/4 meters, shifting duple and triple accents in dark urgency. An exotic trio section emerges, the cello in pedal under a pentatonic scale. Debussy or Ravel is nigh, then the pace picks back up, scampering forward until one last aria sings out, only to be caught in the minor-key eddies that plummet to a deciso conclusion.

–Gary Lemo


 

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