Pieter Wispelwey / Paolo Giacometti

Schubert, Brahms: The Complete Duos; Phantasie

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The album title The Complete Duos/Phantasie is confusing; the Brahms and Schubert sonatas and fantasy and the pair of solo movements by Max Reger don't represent a complete anything. In fact, this is the first in a projected series of albums that will cover all of the duo sonatas of Brahms and Schubert, whether written for cello and piano or not (most of them weren't). The three major works here were all written for other instruments and arranged for cello apparently by Wispelwey himself. Cellists have always poached repertory for other instruments in this way, with varied results, and so it is here. The Schubert Fantasy in C major, D. 934, sounds terrific on Wispelwey's muscular Guadagnini instrument, and the incorporation of the solo Reger movements is an excellent palate cleanser. The little Schubert Sonatina in G minor, D. 408, might also have been transcribed in this manner in its own day. The centerpiece, Brahms' Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 120/2, would seem to be the work that made the jump to the new medium most easily: Brahms, after all, arranged the work for viola and piano. But the exquisite balances of late Brahms, in which texture plays a structural role almost as profound as in total serialism, are a bit off. It's not that the music is unsatisfying to listen to, and the interplay between Wispelwey and pianist Paolo Giacometti is subtle indeed. Recommended, with fine engineering, for those interested in expansions of the cello repertory.

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