Pampeana No.2 (Rhapsody for Cello and Piano), Op.21
Cinco canciones populares argentinas, Op.10 [arr. for cello and piano by Mark Kosower]
Puneña No.2, Op.45 (Hommage à Paul Sacher)
Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op.49
Mark Kosower (cello) & Jee-Won Oh (piano)
Recorded 14-18 April 2006 at Beethovensaal, Hanover, Germany
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: October 2008
CD No: NAXOS 8.570569
Duration: 52 minutes
Husband and wife duo Mark Kosower and Jee-Won Oh begin their exploration of Alberto Ginastera’s complete music for cello and piano with strongly a folk-influenced work.
Pampeana No.2 captures the composer’s take on the rhythms and melodic trends of the Argentinean pampas, and makes for an arresting opening to the disc with its pentatonic declaration from the cello. As the piano joins a lively tempo is set, Oh’s propulsive forward drive is keenly felt in this performance. Kosower plays with some aplomb, too, working up quite a lather in the closing moto perpetuo section, where strong rhythmic definition in the piano part gives the music real lift.
Continuing the folk theme are Kosower’s arrangements of five songs and dances for voice and piano, initially set to folk poetry. The cello is first heard in the sparkling high register line of ‘Chacarera’, while an atmospheric and introspective ‘Triste’ probes deeply. ‘Gato’ is a showy number with which to finish, though the speed with which Naxos propel the listener into the Puneña No.2 is disconcerting.
The disc neatly divides in two, this homage to Paul Sacher beginning its more serious section with a well-structured work for solo cello that passes through a wide range of textures and colours. It’s a remarkably evocative piece, with an ascent to the heights at approximately 4’30” strongly depicting the wide-open Argentine plains.
The sonata is a substantial four-movement work, completed in 1979 as one of the composer’s last published works. Here the piano sound touches on the brittle side as Oh introduces a threatening tone to the Adagio, though the dance-based music fizzes with energy between the pair.
Ginastera’s style often feels like an extension of that found in Debussy’s own Cello Sonata in that its passages of intense quietness often lead to sudden momentum, and while the piece does peter out a little too suddenly, it’s a substantial and highly involving work, particularly in this performance. It completes an extremely well played collection to which I shall return often. The ‘Chacarera’ alone makes a wonderful encore piece – and Kosower’s booklet note supply a wealth of detail, enthusiastically conveyed.