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Mendelssohn: Complete Sonatas For Violoncello & Piano / Nagy, Okada

Mendelssohn / Nagy / Okada
Release Date: 11/08/2011 
Label:  Camerata Records   Catalog #: 28202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Robert NágyHiromi Okada
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MENDELSSOHN Cello Sonatas: No. 1; No. 2. Song Without Words, op. 109 Robert Nagy (vc); Hiromi Okada (pn) CAMERATA CMDC-28202 (61:13)

"There are five cello sonatas by Beethoven and two by Brahms. Comparing them in terms of quality would be inappropriate. They are all extraordinary. Mendelssohn’s two sonatas in this form are, if not extraordinary, at least superb.

In previous Read more style="font-style: italic;">Fanfare issues, I reviewed performances of these Mendelssohn sonatas by cellist David Geringas and pianist Ian Fountain (33:5), cellist Daniel Müller-Schott and pianist Jonathan Gilad (34:4), and cellist Colin Carr and pianist Thomas Sauer (35:1). I recommended all three discs, with an order of preference that was, and still remains, not very assertive. My lack of assertiveness stemmed from an indecisiveness rooted in equivalence of high quality.

Cellist Robert Nagy and pianist Hiromi Okada turn out a product that essentially matches the quality of those in my previous reviews. Nagy’s cello tone and technique are among the best in the business, and Okada’s partnership in this Mendelssohn venture matches, in pianistically equivalent qualities, those of his fellow musician.

Whereas Carr and Sauer provide a somewhat subdued approach to this music, Nagy and Okada show much less restraint. Nagy and Okada are closer to presenting my own view of Mendelssohn’s message, but in one place Okada overreacts. The extensive arpeggiated piano solo that opens the Adagio of the Sonata No. 2 is played too indulgently by Okada. Sauer lets this heavenly music speak for itself, which I prefer even over Gilad’s only slightly indulgent approach. This is but a quibble. The concluding piece, the Song Without Words expressly written for piano and cello, is supremely beautiful and unpretentious music, and is played with the same magnificence accorded the sonatas.

To paraphrase my conclusion in my 35:1 review, the serious collector should get all four discs (the three mentioned in this review and the Nagy/Okada disc reviewed here), and perhaps a few others I’ve not yet heard. The Mendelssohn cello sonatas should be as well represented in one’s collection as those by Beethoven and by Brahms."

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in D major, Op. 58 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Robert Nágy (Cello), Hiromi Okada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Germany 
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in B flat major, Op. 45 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Robert Nágy (Cello), Hiromi Okada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Song without words for Cello and Piano in D major, Op. 109 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Robert Nágy (Cello), Hiromi Okada (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; Germany 

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