Martin Rummel

Bach, Reger: Sonatas for Cello (Viol) and Piano, Vol. 1

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A number of similarities can be heard when comparing the solo cello suites of J.S. Bach and Max Reger. These similarities are far less obvious when comparing the sonatas for cello and piano of Reger and the sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord of Bach. For one, these two works of Reger are both youthful compositions, vastly different than the much more mature solo suites Reger composed closer to the end of his life. The first sonata, by Reger's own admission, is not among the most impressive examples in the literature. Overall, the two sonatas demonstrate Reger's struggle to break with Romantic traditions, but the result is little more than pompous and overly dramatic. Regrettably, the performances on this album by cellist Martin Rummel and pianist Elizabeth Hopkins play right into the insincerity of these sonatas. Rummel's playing is constantly forced and grinding, with technical flaws and intonation issues abounding. Two of the three Bach gamba sonatas fill the middle of this album, but Rummel's approach does not change. Largely without finesse or attention to detail, Rummel again forces his way through these otherwise elegant works. Hopkins' piano playing, while acceptable in the two Reger sonatas, is entirely too heavy and un-nuanced in the Bach. With so many exceptional recordings of the Bach sonatas, this particular album is easily one to pass on.

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