Wirripang Wirr 048
Reviewed by Elizabeth Silsbury, July 1st, 2014
Daniel Herscovitch’s programme notes are worth reading on their own. Scholarly, with just enough detail to make them a useful guide, they show the same thoughtfulness that characterises his playing. Musicology at its best.
Of special interest on this recording is the Sonata for Cello and Piano, the composer’s final work, written for the then renowned cellist and composer, Auguste Franchhomme, his friend and chamber music partner. Herscovitch sounds the alert that we should look out for the rediscovery of his works.
Hence Chopin’s intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the warmest and most vocal member of the string family. Elizabeth Neville sings very sweetly in duet with the piano for a surprisingly substantial and moving largo; some listeners may find that elsewhere Chopin favours the keyboard. There are patches in the Finale Allegro for instance that sound as though he has written a piano piece complete in itself with all the best bits, then added a solo line almost as an afterthought. However this rarely played piece (maybe cellists find it a bit of a tussle) gives us even more reason to mourn the early death of the Poet of the Piano and to wonder what he might have achieved had he lived longer.
Herscovitch makes light work of the technical tangles of the two solo sonatas. The recording reveals powerful fingers and wrists at work, tempered by melodic sensitivity with themes that are prescient of Rachmaninov.
Chopin recitals are not uncommon.
Herscovitch and Neville have done more.
Listening to their sonatas is similar to being surrounded by the works of a single painter, providing a more detailed, and more favorable assessment of the artist’s capabilities.