Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A minor, D821
Adagio and Allegro in A flat, Op.70
Funf Stücke im Volkston, Op.102
Märchenbilder, Op.113 [arr. Piatti]
Antonio Meneses (cello) & Gérard Wyss (piano)
Recorded on 26-28 May 2006 in Potton Hall, Suffolk
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: February 2007
CD No: AVIE RECORDS
Duration: 79 minutes
Only one of the five pieces on this disc has its origins as being for the cello, yet the remainder transcribe so well for the instrument – whether from horn, clarinet, viola or arpeggione – that it would take a keen ear indeed to spot the transcriptions. And with persuasive performances such as these from Antonio Meneses and Gérard Wyss the programme leads to a wonderfully linked, generously filled release.
Meneses once recorded with Herbert von Karajan, the foil to Anne-Sophie Mutter in Brahms’s Double Concerto, yet has rarely appeared as a recording artist. He seems to empathise with music of the 19th-century, and his big triumph here is the Schubert.
Gérard Wyss sets a beautiful tone for this work, bringing a soft melancholy to characterise the first movement, while Meneses recognises the importance of pitching the high register notes perfectly, losing nothing in quality of tone. While the first movement’s dance-music could perhaps have more of a spring in its step, the duo more than make up for this in the finale, where the dance is purposeful and has more of a smile. In between the pair deliver a tender slow movement, expansive in tempo but not overplayed.
Schubert proves the ideal pairing for Schumann’s collected music for cello, both original and arranged. The Adagio and Allegro has always been a favourite of the instrument’s repertoire, the range falling perfectly under its compass. After a warmly expressive Adagio, Meneses and Wyss set off purposefully in the faster music, finding Schumann’s inner resolve.
In the cello-original Folk Pieces, Meneses is even better, projecting strongly for the Fourth, bringing out the rhythmic games of the Fifth and broadly singing in the Second. His tone is once again beautifully rounded, but not too thick, while Wyss stays nimble on his feet in accompaniment.
The clarinet ‘Fantasiestücke’ also makes an effective transition to the cello, refuting possible allegations of greedy cellists! The three pieces unite as a bigger whole in their thematic linking, and the two musicians bring this home in the lack of breaks between movements, with Meneses’s 1730 Gagliano responding to Schumann’s lyricism.
The chronological step through Schumann’s cello music arrives at Alfredo Piatti’s arrangement of the Märchenbilder, an autumnal work that here finds Meneses in reflective mood. The closing bars are truly ‘langsam’, as instructed, the two finding a stillness that could only be associated with sleep. Preceding this are two energetically delivered movements, after the initially reflective musings of the first one, marked ‘nicht schnell’.
The care and dedication that has gone into this most attractive recital is clear to hear, with Meneses and Wyss bringing performances to earn this release a strong recommendation, the essence of the music ideally caught.