David's Review Corner
, September 2020
Though Zoltan Kodaly was to compose a number of highly popular symphonic scores, these two early works were to remain among of his greatest achievements.
In both instances—the Duo from 1914 and the solo Sonata composed the following year—they were to break new boundaries for the instruments involved, whilst still remaining in the world of tonality. Both are of substantial length, the Solo Cello Sonata, going past the half hour while it exploring the sonorities the instrument can achieve. In three movements, it was to remain, for many years, the prerogative of a handful of virtuoso performers and recordings were rare. Here they receive superb realisations, the duo in the hands of outstanding German concert soloists—the violinist, Hellen Weiss, and cellist, Gabriel Schwabe. Weiss’s 1698 Matteo Goffriller violin a match in tonal weight for the 1697 Guarneri cello in Kodaly’s impassioned opening Allegro, and the equally forceful pungency of the Presto finale. The Solo Cello Sonata is in much the same stylistic world, though for the cellist it poses far more problems, the score full of crushing cross-string chords, left hand pizzicatos while playing a smooth melody, and, indeed, every technical challenge known by Kodaly. I discovered the work in the mid-blowing1950 recording by Janos Starker, and having heard most since then, I much enjoyed the technically immaculate account from Schwabe. He is also faced by the mercurial brilliance required by Gyorgy Ligeti, the work curiously similar to Kodaly. A recording sound project from Germany’s Radio Bremen that I strongly recommend. © 2020 David’s Review Corner