Pierre Fournier / André Navarra / Josef Suk

Kódaly: Cello Sonatina; Intermezzo; Adagio

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Fascinating as a historical document and enjoyable despite its less than ideal sound, this 2004 disc from Praga presents chamber works by Zoltán Kodály, interpreted by extraordinary musicians who contributed much to their acceptance in the repertoire. Foremost among them is the incomparable Pierre Fournier, who makes the Sonata for solo cello this album's most significant offering. Recorded live in 1959 with great resonance and amazing depth, Fournier's performance is arresting and dramatic, and the work's tension is sustained throughout by his passionate intensity. Regrettably, the noisy audience may distract, but Fournier's performance is enthralling and too powerful for a few coughs to spoil it. Almost as captivating is the Duo for violin and cello, recorded live in 1967 by Josef Suk and André Navarra. Though there are only two parts, the contrapuntal textures, simultaneous arco and pizzicato playing, and multi-stops often simulate the resources of a string quartet. Suk and Navarra are exceptional in their concentration and drive, and their vigorous reading also prevails over the audience's noises. The Sonatine, the Intermezzo, and the Adagio offer the best sound, and the performances are pleasant. Yet these works are "young man's music," and they show the influence of Debussy, rather than the Magyar element found in Kodály's mature works.

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