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Cello Sonatas Import
Martinu's three cello sonatas represent the most distinguished contribution to the genre by a 20th-century composer. In fact, there are only two other groups of works that stand up in comparison with them, those by Beethoven and Brahms. Music for piano and a low pitched instrument like the cello is very difficult to write, because the keyboard very easily overwhelms the string player, particularly in the deeper registers. Martinu rose to the challenge with unfailing musical imagination and his usual impeccable technique. These are tuneful, appealing pieces with exciting, propulsive quick movements and hauntingly lyrical slow ones. Rudolf Firkusny and János Starker are simply unbeatable, and chamber music lovers should snap this up without delay. --David Hurwitz
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Here, a great composer (disgracefully, he does not rate a mention in Sir Simon Rattle's Leaving Home series) comes to terms with what it means to write a cello sonata in the mid-Twentieth Century and not descend into that `All Gods are Dead' atonal chook-feed. If Energy is Eternal Delight, there is a cult of it in Martinu's oeuvre: `chain-drive' melody is all.
All three works are products of Martinu's prodigal maturity when he was on the run from the Big A or domiciled in the States. They're inventive, noble and supremely crafted - and how well Martinu exploits the register of the cello. I am prepared to make stronger claims re the Third Cello Sonata: it is a masterpiece. Just listen to the hushed entry of the cello at 2'47" in the first movement: that's inspiration. The close of the Andante is equally brilliant as the cellist ascends from the depths to join the pianist in the stratosphere whence a beatific vision is glimpsed - one can actually foresee it some thirty seconds out but its actualisation is still pure bliss. The finale imparts buoyancy and optimism in equal measure. Like all masterpieces, the Law of Diminishing Returns does not apply: the more one listens to The Third Sonata, the more enriching it becomes.
These performances are surely ex-cathedra - who else is better credentialed to play them? - and the digital recording adds to the allure of this disc.