Among his extensive chamber music output, Bohuslav Martinu left behind three magnificent cello sonatas, as well as a host of smaller works for cello and piano. Though not as extensively recorded as other standard repertoire works, there are some exemplary recordings of Martinu's sonatas, most notably the one made by Janos Starker and Rudolf Firkusný (who premiered the First Sonata with Fournier). This Chandos album features brothers Paul (cello) and Huw (piano) Watkins in what is sure to become another highly respected recording of Martinu's sonatas. The two brothers play together with seamless accuracy, carefully matching every articulation and every nuance of phrasing, dynamics, and rubato. Martinu's music relies heavily on rhythmic accuracy and intensity, and while not on the same level of fierce rhythmicity as Starker and Firkusný, the brothers Watkins are keenly sensitive to the importance of driven, clean rhythm. Paul Watkins also imparts a surprising (and very successful) focus on the lyrical aspects of Martinu's writing, particularly in the poignantly beautiful middle movements of the First and Second sonatas. Balance between the cello and piano is superb throughout, and Chandos' sound is warm, spacious, and crystal clear. Whether as an introduction to these enthralling sonatas or as an addition to an extant collection, this album is unreservedly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata No. 1 for Cello and Piano, H 277|
|Sonata no. 2, for Cello and Piano, H 286|
|Sonata No. 3 in C major, for Cello and Piano, H 340|