Jonathan Aasgaard / Ian Buckly

Something Borrowed

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Transcribing pieces for different instrumentation is a practice that extends far back into music history; it is sometimes met with opposition by purists. There are some transcriptions, however, that have become such a traditional part of an instrument's repertoire that it's almost hard to remember that they are, in fact, transcriptions from some other instrument. Something Borrowed, an album by cellist Jonathan Aasgaard and pianist Ian Buckle, predominantly features works such as these -- Fauré's Après un rêve, Rachmaninov's Vocalise, Chopin's C sharp minor Nocturne, and Ravel's Pièce en forme de Habanera -- works that cellists have clearly made their own. Aasgaard includes other crowd pleasers like Rimsky-Korsakov's nimble Flight of the Bumble Bee and Pablo de Sarasate's virtuosic Zigeunerweisen. Buckle throws his hat in the ring with his own transcription of 3 Songs of Roger Quilter. While the repertoire itself is completely enjoyable, there's still something lacking in this album. Aasgaard's playing is technically quite solid (apart from a few intonation blemishes), but there's little variety or excitement in his approach to his selections despite the disparate repertoire. Zigeunerweisen is played with a total lack of the fiery panache that brings people to their feet; the Habanera is very straight-laced and rigid. Safe, risk-free playing of these virtuoso show pieces quickly becomes uninteresting and it's very easy to completely tune out what's happening. With so much technical mastery of his instrument, it's a shame Aasgaard doesn't also bring a bit more musical vitality and variety to his listeners.

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