Notes and Editorial Reviews
One of the strongest responses to what some see as the tyranny of the large record companies has come from Emerson Quartet cellist David Finckel and his spouse, pianist Wu Han, who several years ago launched ArtistLed in order to issue their own CDs. In all cases, the performances are compelling and the engineering is state-of-the-art. The fledgling company's catalog and a statement of its operating philosophy are available online (at www.artistled.com); the site includes MP3 samples plus various press clips. An interview with Finckel and Han can also be found elsewhere in this issue. It seems an ideal way to address all sorts of challenges that nowadays face classical artists (and classical enthusiasts). Surely the Web site has advanced
the cause of the Finckel-Han duo, and surely it has, indirectly, enhanced the reputations of the partners individually as well. This CD and others in the ArtistLed series are available for purchase only at the site.
This latest installment presents glowing readings of three major works for cello and piano from the first half of the 20th century. The recording sessions took place in December 1999 at the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York. That Rostropovich "owned" at least two of these pieces— the Shostakovich and the Prokofiev may be widely accepted, but the Finckel-Han readings are every bit as compelling as the older master's, and it is fascinating to hear the many subtle changes in phrasing, emphasis, and overall approach. The CD is dedicated to Rostropovich.
The notes are by Gerard McBurney, who places each score in context and provides additional details of the first performances. The 24-bit recorded sound is impressive, and the performances are captured and presented in a strikingly "natural" setting. The release is a class act in every respect and is warmly recommended to all who admire these sonatas or these exemplary artists.
-- John W. Lambert, FANFARE [9/2001] Read less
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