Fri 01 March 1996
A significant precursor of Ravel's duo sonata (1920-22) and hardly less memorable, Koddly's earthy Op. 7(1914) has a searingly intense Adagio at its core, flanked either side by a wealth of Hungarian-flavoured dialogue. Sergiu Luca and Roel Dieltiens excel in the slow movement although I retain fond memories of a rather more witty Heifetz-Piatigorsky reading of the third movement.
Harmonia Mundi's programming context is particularly useful in that it extends the folk element to a major solo Cello Sonata (also by Kodaly) and a concise but powerfully expressive solo Violin Sonata by the Hungarian-born Swiss composer Sandor Veress (1907-92). Again, the Adagio holds the deepest secrets, whereas both outer movements are rich in harmonic and rhythmic incident, much of it reminiscent of Romanian folk music.
The most riveting item on the disc, however, is the highly unusual account of Kodaly's epic solo Cello Sonata, where Dieltiens employs a wide range of slides, vibrato and dynamics, inflecting the notes gipsy-fashion (especially in the second and third movements) and retaining some arpeggiated writing in the finale that Janos Starker — surely the work's most feted living interpreter — habitually cut. Listening to Op. 8 played in this manner is rather like encountering a one-man folk band, what with copious instances of strumming pizzicato, pizzicato-glissando, arco and pizzicato combined, crunchy chords accompanying folksong-style melodies and wild recitative (and at 533" into the Allegro molto vivace there's even what sounds like a momentary trip to Nibelheim). It really is a fabulous piece and Dieltiens's colourful, loose-wristed account resembles a spontaneous improvisation. Not that Starker is upstaged (his superb 'middle' recording, originally made for Columbia, is currently available as part of EMI's admirable "Les introuvables de Janos Starker"), just that Dieltiens offers a fascinating new slant on the work. The recordings are excellent.