Classical Music Odd Couple

August 5, 2010

The  title of this CD, Odd Couple, refers to the fact that the cello and  piano combination, although a pairing first introduced by Beethoven for  his great cello sonatas, has always been considered an awkward or  maladjusted blend of instruments. Well, if that were true, a countless  number of masterpieces would never have seen the light of day. Instead, I  believe this CD should have been titled Odd Quartet, because the 4  pieces performed here could not be more varied and different in their  demands on the performers, as well as the listeners. Jazzy, romantic,  intellectual and atmospheric are the adjectives I would use to describe  each one with only one word.

The first piece on the disc 22 Part 1, by David Sanford,  who was born in 1964, is built upon a very jazzy piano part, with long  stride lines in the left hand, punctuated by jabs from the cello for a  while, eventually leading to long sections where both instruments share  long, jazz infused lines and bring everything to a punchy meeting of the  minds in the end.

This is followed by Samuel Barber’s Cello Sonata in C Minor.  A very romantic work for a piece written in 1932. This piece demands,  right from the very first notes, a high level of focused emotions,  running the gamut from fiery passion to tender lyricism, with both  instruments sharing the lead along the way, with technical and artistic  demands always front and center.

A difficult work loaded with ever changing counterpoint and full  of interesting interplay and cross-talk between the two instruments. It  is absolute music which demands high levels of concentration from the  players at all times to pull it off.

The final work, Cantos for Slava, by Augusta Read Thomas, was composed in 2008 and written in   memory of Mistislav Rostropovich, the greatest russian cellist and all-around musician. It is an atmospheric piece of music,   employing many different techniques on the cello, from the plucking of strings à la Jaco Pastorius, to long, gliding textures   and shimmers well supported with moody piano lines. A rather haunting piece following the realist Carter work.

Both Matt Haimovitz and Geoffrey Burleson  meet the different demands of these pieces head on, and imprint their  own personalities to the music, branding it as theirs. From the passion  of the Barber to the eccentricities f the Carter, they obviously have  this music fused in their minds, and collaborate very well together.  They have actually started, in the fall of 2008, touring with these  works and playing live, from concert halls to night clubs. Haimovitz has  always been a strong supporter of music and believes in bringing it to  as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible.

For more detailed info on these dedicated musicians and the fine Oxingale record label, please visit

by Jean-Yves Duperron

View article at Classical Music

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