Natalie Clein / Christian Ihle Hadland

Clarke: Viola Sonata; Bridge: Cello Sonata; Vaughan Williams: Six Studies in English Folk Song

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None of the music on this little recital is celebrated, and outside Britain, even the composers, except for Vaughan Williams, are likely to cause a little bit of head-scratching. Yet the music is highly accessible and ought to be a pleasure for anybody. The music of Rebecca Clarke has steadily gained momentum, and the cello version of the Viola Sonata heard here is worth the price of admission by itself. It's a dense but emotionally intense work, and the gutsy cello sound seems to fit the material equally, as does the viola, but with a different flavor. Sample the big two-section finale for an idea. The work makes a nice counterpoint to the similarly passionate but more tonally conservative and even more lyrical Cello Sonata of Frank Bridge, truly an unjustly neglected work. There are some fine miniatures of Bridge, and the concluding Six Studies in English Folk Song of Vaughan Williams, beautifully compact extractions of the songs' essences, bring down the curtain in satisfying fashion. Cellist Natalie Clein and pianist Christian Ihle Hadland have plainly taken the time to get to the emotional cores of these works, and really the only complaint is with Hyperion's church acoustic, which is miked too closely and in general overblown. The passion and intimacy of this music can speak for themselves.

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