Velitchka Yotcheva

Franck & Brahms: Cello & Piano Sonatas

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This albums features two sonatas that were originally conceived of as works for violin and piano that have since found their way into the cello repertoire. Franck's A major Sonata was written for the great Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and was almost as quickly published for the cello within Franck's lifetime. Nowadays, both violinists and cellists claim this sonata to be "theirs," and performances on the two instruments tend to be split rather evenly. Many listeners may be familiar by the many fine performances of transcriptions of Brahms' First Violin Sonata, Op. 78, for cello and piano. This album features a new transcription of the Third Sonata, Op. 108, by cellist Velitchka Yotcheva. Yotcheva's previous CD releases have earned her high marks for passionate, fiery playing, yet there is some measure of this fire missing in the Franck sonata. The first movement, if anything, is surprisingly lackadaisical and bland. The third movement Recitative, with its soaring intervals, is also startlingly laid back and unenthusiastic. The Brahms sonata, which is transcribed well and quite true to the original score, is really more of the same: adequate but unmoving. Yotcheva frequently uses a delayed vibrato on her long notes; when used sparingly, this technique can be effective in adding shape to a line. This disc, however, finds Yotcheva using this tool far too often. What's more, she seems to land on the note quite flat, not seeming in tune until the vibrato finally emerges. Pianist Patrice Laré does a reasonably good job accompanying Yotcheva, but spends too much time in the background to produce a true sense of chamber music equality. XXI's recorded sound is extremely dry and distant.

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