For his solo debut recording, acclaimed American cellist Matthew Zalkind has chosen three works which, he explains, “have an especially strong sense of kinship, each of which explores the vast expressive and technical possibilities of the solo cello.” Johann Sebastian Bach’s cello suites represented such a high level of achievement that until Kodaly composed his Sonata nearly 200 years later, barely a single significant work was written for solo cello. The Suite of 2012 by Michael Brown, a close friend and colleague of Zalkind’s, was influenced by both the earlier pieces and provides a perfect bridge between them. “impressive refinement… eloquent phrasing… singing tone… fine technique…” (The New York Times) “darts around the instrumentRead more fearlessly… The sharply etched passagework in the Bach was startling, surpassing that of many world-class cellists.” (Washington Post)
There’s an epic quality to Zalkind’s reading of Kodály’s sprawling Sonata, and his plaintive tone in highlying lyrical passages has an almost keening quality that carries an unexpected whiff of tragedy. The Adagio, too, is conceived on a grand scale, starting with a fearsome, slow crescendo. He seems to think of phrasing in terms of gestures that make both rhetorical and dramatic sense, and in the finale this thoughtfulness is evident in the way he picks up and carries melodic threads through the music’s intricate fabric. Michael Brown’s Bach-inspired Suite sounds a little flimsy placed between these two masterworks but works well enough as an interlude. All in all, this is a most auspicious debut.