Sat 01 February 1997
Every cellist who can master the wrist-twisting technical demands of Kodaly’s Solo Sonata earns my sincerest admiration. Maria Kliegel rises to the challenge with considerable gusto: harmonics, glissandos (sometimes plucked with vibrato, as on a guitar), sul ponticello, fiery arpeggios – all are expertly employed and delivered via a nicely rounded tone. Kliegel’s lustrous account of the Adagio (to be played con grand espressiono) underlines harmonic similarities with late Liszt (at around 3'35") and the folky, one-man-band finale has plenty of panache. Not so much, however, as Roel Dieltiens, whose wildly spontaneous account I recommended last March, nor Janos Starker, a consummate musician whose various recordings of the sonata (the EMI version, on a six-disc set, is my current favourite) vie with Heifetz’s of the Sinding Suite (RCA, 11/94) and Feuermann’s of Schelomo as among the most sensational examples of bowed virtuosity on record. Another strong – and extremely musical – alternative is provided by the fine Danish cellist Erling Blondal Bengtsson.