Notes and Editorial Reviews
5 Pieces in Folk Style.
Sonata in A.
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Valentin Radutiu (vc); Per Rundberg (pn)
OEHMS 759 (63:48)
The 25-year-old German cellist
Valentin Radutiu has chosen an interesting program for his debut CD. The Schumann is obvious—out of the two or three short works that cellists sometimes play by the composer, most notably the
Adagio and Allegro
, this is the only one actually written for the instrument, and in certain ways one can tell that. It is not overtly or overly virtuosic; it retains a fondness for a certain mainly medium range; and it offers great opportunity for extended passages of intense lyricism. The melodies also sport real folk influence, and this can be easily heard. Radutiu has chosen well in this piece; his tone is simply an exquisite thing to behold, pure lyrical beauty in every sense of the word, beautifully balanced, and nicely resonant. One hears little audible shifting, gorgeous phrases perfectly spun, and a vibrato that is expressive and completely controlled.
Franck’s sonata is a staple of the violin repertoire, of course, and many cellists are taking it up as well, as the composer, regretting at the end of his life that he did not create any music for an instrument that he loved so well, approved this version by Jules Delsart, and it is very effective, especially when mastered the way Radutiu has here. I didn’t used to think this way, but I am now fully convinced that over time I could come to prefer this sonata—one that I wax hot and cold on anyway—on the cello. It is missing nothing here, neither drama, perfect intonation, beautiful phrasing, nor a long-sustained ability to project its many melodic felicities.
Of course in any jar of ointment one is likely to find at least one fly. In this case it would be the Peter Ruzicka composition
, composed for the winner of the Music Prize of the Kulturkreis der deutsche Wirtschaft, which Radutiu won in 2009 and enabled the production of this CD. I was hoping for more than what I get here—in a program that is, at the very least, boldly and
romantic in nature, this thing sticks out like a cockroach crawling across a perfectly cooked steak. Suddenly we are treated to high cello harmonics and passages where the cello “confronts central events in the score with its own programmatic destiny. The music ceases at a number of points, almost as though it were remembering, as though it could only find the strength to continue by listening to the past.” Huh? As from the blatant anthropomorphosis here, I wished the piece had ceased about 10 minutes earlier. We have heard it all before—lots of odd sounds, little discernable direction, and no imagination.
At last we get to the barn-burning portion of this debut disc as Radutiu plays the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, with few exceptions, directly from the violin part. It is a stunning
worthy of any cellist, let alone one who has not seen a quarter of a century yet. Again Radutiu makes us forget the instrument—it’s as if the thing has been hand-crafted for the cello instead of the violin, and the ease with which our young artist navigates the difficulties of this work is astounding. I can honestly say that I have never heard it played better—on violin, cello, or tuba for that matter—and I honestly don’t expect to.
The sound on this disc is truly exceptional—warm, soft, and only moderately close to the instrument. If the program or great cello playing interests you, don’t hesitate on this one.
FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
Works on This Recording
Recitativo by Peter Ruzicka
Valentin Radutiu (Cello),
Per Rundberg (Piano)
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