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Dutch Cello Sonatas, Vol. 3

Ruth / Hochscheid
Release Date: 04/12/2011 
Label:  Audiomax   Catalog #: 9031655   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Matthijs VermeulenJan Ingenhoven
Performer:  Doris HochscheidFrans van Ruth
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

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VERMEULEN Cello Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2. INGENHOVEN Cello Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 Doris Hochscheid (vc); Frans van Ruth (pn) AUDIOMAX 903 1655-6 (SACD: 61:31)

Given the musical society in which he functioned, Matthijs Vermeulen (1888–1967) may have been the most avant-garde composer of all. Dutch music in the 1920s and ’30s was as conservative Read more and hidebound as any, with no modern-music hub such as Berlin or Paris where new ideas percolated. Willem Pijper was regarded as the ultimate radical composer, whereas Vermeulen was not even accepted as one. Totally rejected in his day, Vermeulen is now perceived by many sophisticated Dutch musicians as Holland’s greatest 20th-century composer—certainly he was its most original one. One might equate him with Charles Ives. Although the arc of their reputations was similar, the Dutchman went much further than the American, who clung to many traditions while pursuing his own new paths. Although Vermeulen had written a rather Mahlerian symphony in 1912–14, the Cello Sonata No. 1 (1918) was his first major statement. Its two movements represent Venus and Mars, the second recalling the opening at its close. It is quite lyrical despite having no tonal center. There are passages that have an Ivesian flavor, although their gossamer wistfulness often gives way to a French clarity in line with Debussy or even Ravel. Vermeulen’s Second Sonata was begun in 1927, following a successful outing of the First, but was abandoned for a decade, being finished in 1938. It is a more conventional sonata and lacks the earlier work’s sense of power and wholeness—the composer had mellowed rather than matured. Nevertheless, its more brilliant passages provide considerable interest for performers and listeners alike.

Jan Ingenhoven (1876–1951) is unknown today; this is the only recording of his music that I have found in 50 years of exploring Dutch music. The New Grove gives him half a page:

In the chamber works Ingenhoven’s style becomes even more exclusive through a combination of the polyphonic elements and a new homophonic approach, with tonally indefinite chords, subtle dynamics and delicate timbre. He devised cantilena-like melodies, quasi-improvised as if he wanted to create a Jugendstil in music.

That fits his only two cello sonatas, brief (8:49 and 6:30), single-movement works from 1919 and 1922, except that I am not sure what is meant by “quasi-improvised” melodies. Both sonatas are formally amorphous, relying on a constantly varied progression of ideas, their delicate scoring revealing a strong French influence. These charming works are certainly worth getting to know.

Doris Hochscheid and Frans van Ruth have distinguished themselves in this series and elsewhere, but the competition is impressive: Vermeulen’s complete works appear on six Donemus CDs (CV 36/37/38), on which the cello sonatas are played by two of Holland’s most honored musicians, Anner Bylsma and Reinbert de Leeuw. Bylsma plays with greater clarity than Hochsheid, but his cello has a distracting buzz; both pianists are superb. Hearing both duos helps one understand Vermeulen’s First Sonata. Its difficulties are more of interpretation and understanding than of execution; Hochsheid and van Ruth make the more convincing case for it. A fine Dutch stereo recording from the early 1980s is outdone by this gorgeous new disc. SACD clarifies the cello a bit, but surround sound takes away that edge.

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for cello & piano No.1 by Matthijs Vermeulen
Performer:  Doris Hochscheid (Cello), Frans van Ruth (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1918 
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 11 Minutes 22 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for cello & piano No. 1 by Jan Ingenhoven
Performer:  Frans van Ruth (Piano), Doris Hochscheid (Cello)
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 8 Minutes 59 Secs. 
3.
Deuxième Sonate: Quasi una fantasia by Jan Ingenhoven
Performer:  Frans van Ruth (Piano), Doris Hochscheid (Cello)
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 6 Minutes 41 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for cello & piano No.2 by Matthijs Vermeulen
Performer:  Frans van Ruth (Piano), Doris Hochscheid (Cello)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1938 
Venue:  Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster 
Length: 14 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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