Late Romantic Music for Cello and Piano

Parry Karp

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Late Romantic Music for Cello and Piano Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Cellist Parry Karp and pianist (and father) Howard Karp, offer listeners this two-disc set of late Romantic works for cello and piano that they have labeled "unjustly neglected." The program concludes, however, with the Rachmaninoff cello sonata -- one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the repertoire -- perhaps in an effort to offer something familiar along with all of the unfamiliar pieces. Disc 1 takes us first to England with the brooding cello sonata of John Ireland whose compositional language is somewhat reminiscent of Frank Bridge. A quick hop across the English Channel brings us to France and Albéric Magnard's emotional and rhythmically driven sonata, which is perhaps the most engaging and convincing work in the set. The last of the featured "neglected" works is the second sonata of Romanian composer George Enescu. Like the Ireland sonata, Enescu's work relies heavily on folk melodies. Whether any of these sonatas deserve to be placed alongside the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, or Prokofiev will be a matter of personal preference. Karp's performances generally do an adequate job of maintaining the listener's interest, not an easy task with almost all unfamiliar works. His sound, however, does not exemplify a "Romantic cello sound." It is somewhat thin and piercing rather than warm and well-rounded. Still, his efforts to broaden the cello's repertoire are appreciated and listeners looking for something new and different will doubtlessly enjoy this album.

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