Danjulo Ishizaka / Shai Wosner

Grieg, Janácek, Kodály

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Japanese-German cellist Danjulo Ishizaka, with a pearly tone and plenty of athletic agility in the extreme ranges of a piece like the second movement of Zoltán Kodály's Solo Cello Sonata, Op. 8, heard here, has gained plenty of notice as a rising star on the instrument. Here he takes another step forward with a recital that's not just cleanly executed, but quite uncannily well planned. Ishizaka's topic here is the development of the nationalist idea as it matured in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. All the pieces on the album are rooted in folk music to one degree or another, but all of them also push against the nationalist idea. The title of Janácek's three-movement Pohádka means "Fairy Tale" and has affinities with expressionist treatments of myths and fairy tales in literature and art; the work has a psychologically penetrating quality and despite its fairly early date is entirely characteristic of its composer's output. Even cellists who complain about the sparsity of their repertoire do not often perform this work or the small Presto found later in the program. The Kodály sonata, in addition to allowing Ishizaka to display his technique in full, defers the pure folkloric material mostly until the finale, juxtaposing it with the spectacular virtuosity of the central movement. The finale is the rightly well-loved Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36, of Grieg, dominated by the piano, but with the cello beautifully deployed in lyrical passages. With arresting beauty from Ishizaka throughout, and superb studio sound from the Onyx label, this is an exceptional cello recital.

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