JOAN MANÉN (1883-1971): Sonata di concerto for Cello and Piano, Op. A-42, ROBERTO GERHARD (1896-1970): Cello Sonata, XAVIER MONTSALVATGE (1912-2012): Sonata concertante for Cello and Piano.

Catalogue Number: 07V040

Label: IBS

Reference: IBS-72019

Format: CD

Price: $15.98

Description: Three exceptionally fine cello sonatas by Catalan composers who took different approaches to incorporating the traditional music of the region into their individual, unmistakably 20th century styles. All are substantial three-movement works, serious but approachable. The most straightforward is Manén's work from the 1940s, a splendid neo-Romantic specimen which joins his violin concerto (10S047) in proclaiming him as a composer well worth getting to know. The first movement is a bold allegro preceded by a solemn, impressive introduction. The immediate impression is of a solo concerto, the piano part very much called upon to fill the role of an orchestra. The second movement is based on a Catalan melody, beautifully harmonised, and the vigorous finale is propelled by exhilarating flamenco rhythms. By the 1950s, Gerhard, the composer who introduced dodecaphony to the Iberian peninsula, had become concerned to use traditional elements in his works without compromising his serial principles. But the latter stays in the composer’s workshop; traditional rhythms and themes provide ideas to incorporate into the composing system, and the result is a rich chromatic language, harmonically and rhythmically engaging. The first movement is energetic; the second desolate and tragic, Gerhard’s note-row theme as emotionally rich as any diatonic melody. The finale makes use of a playful folk dance rhythm, and the melodic phrases sound deceptively tonal, and at any rate entirely in keeping with the high-spirited nature of the piece. Montsalvatge's 1971 work is characteristically eclectic, the first movement setting up a dialogue between tonality and a polytonality which approaches atonality. A strident first section gives way to a liltingly lyrical second part, which is not tonal but is nonetheless crafted to sound thoroughly familiar. The second movement is tragic and impassioned; an austere lament without recourse to the comforting resolution of tonal harmony. The following scherzo is brittle and ironic, all scuttling pizzicati and spiccato attacks, and an insectoid rustling and buzzing. The finale is a brief sarcastic rondo, somewhat reminiscent of Shostakovich. Guillermo Pastrana (cello), Daniel Blanch (piano).

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