Jiri Barta / Martin Kasík / Jan Talich Jr.

Chopin: Cello Sonata; Grand Duo Concertante; Introduction and Polonaise brillant; Piano Trio

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The works of Chopin are almost exclusively dedicated to his own instrument, the piano. How fortunate for cellists, then, that on the few occasions the composer branched out to chamber music, that he so frequently included the cello. In fact, Chopin turned to the cello in the last chamber work -- the cello sonata -- he was to complete before his untimely death. Much like Rachmaninoff, Chopin's works for cello and piano are still heavily rooted in the piano, with the cello taking on a primarily melodic role while the technical aspects of the performance were left to the piano. In general, cellist Jiri Barta accommodates these demands. On the upper two strings of his instrument, Barta's tone is sufficiently bright to cut through the sometimes dense piano part while remaining sweet and warm enough to remind us why Chopin chose to write for this instrument. Problems occur on the G and C strings, however, when Barta's sound becomes diffuse and unfocused. Intonation is typically strong with the notable exception of the double-stops at the opening of the sonata's Finale. Interpretively, his performances are solid but uninspiring and unmoving. Listeners may also wish to investigate the more passionate performance of cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han.

Also on this CD is the Op. 8 Piano Trio in G minor. Supraphon's recorded sound here is quite different that in the previous tracks. All three instruments suffer from an overall muddy sound, particularly in their lower registers. While violinist Jan Talich's performance is fierier than Barta's, is still not quite enough to rise above the dullness of the recorded sound.

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