Summary II - Perényi, Várjon, Keller
Works by Mendelssohn, Debussy, Schumann, Martinu, Kodály, Bartók
Miklós Perényi (cello)
Dénes Várjon (piano)
András Keller (conductor)
There are always musical child prodigies. Faster, more powerful, more perfect than previously imaginable. But there are also "senior prodigies". They reveal not only structure and inner sense of great works. At the same time they talk about themselves and their lives, where they come from or where they are going, on the basis of pieces that they have often carried around with them since youth. About their dreams, which are also those of youth.
"What would you most like to play?" I asked 74-year-old Miklós Perényi when we were thinking together about the programme for this recording. The result was an unusual recital, volume 2 of the TACET series "Summary".
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- Béla Bartók: Rhapsody for Violin and Piano No. 1, Sz. 87 BB 94
- Claude Debussy: La plus que lente for Piano, L 121 CD 128
- Zoltán Kodály: Old Hungarian Folksongs, K. 41
- Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Variations concertantes for Cello and Piano in D major, MWV Q 19 Op. 17
- Robert Schumann: Concerto for Cello in A minor, Op. 129
Review by Graham Williams - July 5, 2022
Summary Vol. II is the title of this latest TACET release from the distinguished Hungarian cellist Miklós Perényi. For six of the seven works on this beautifully recorded (and performed) SACD Perényi is accompanied by the pianist Dénes Várjon and for the seventh is joined by Concert Budapest and their Artistic Director and Chief Conductor András Keller in a performance of Schumann’s Cello Concerto.
TACET’s ‘Real Surround Sound’ technique, one that uses the whole acoustic space and places the listener at the centre of the performers, only really applies here to the Schumann Concerto (recorded in the Italian Institute, Budapest). For the other works the cellist and pianist are positioned in front of the listener as one would expect in a recital hall with the rear surround speakers providing a warm ambience from the acoustic of the Budapest Music Centre.
The programme opens with a most engaging performance of Mendelssohn’s delightful ‘Variations concertantes’, written in 1829, when the composer was just twenty, that manifests not only the rich tone of Perényi’s cello but also the sensitivity and agility of his partner Dénes Várjon in this entrancing theme and eight variations.
A ‘lollipop’ follows in the shape of Debussy’s ‘La plus que lente’, here arranged for cello and piano by Zoltán Kocsis before the longest work on the disc, Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor Op.129.There are currently eleven SACD recordings of this concerto listed on this site (including one in a version for violin). These are, in the main, re-mastered recordings by great cellists from the past – Rostropovich, Fournier, Starker and du Pré so this new one is to be welcomed.
Schumann’s orchestration has (unfairly) been the butt of criticism by writers on music while conductors and even composers have tinkered with it. The writing for the orchestra in this concerto is full of imaginative touches and thanks to the orchestral layout of Concerto Budapest on this TACET release many details, especially in the woodwind, that are often lost in a conventional set up are made crystal clear here. The soloist is positioned at the front, just to the right of centre with most of the winds and brass behind him, while the strings and horns are in a semi-circle around and behind the listener. Perényi’s account of this predominantly lyrical work is warmly expressive and pleasingly paced.
The remainder of the programme consists of three characteristic pieces from Eastern Europe composers that Perényi and his partner dispatch with considerable aplomb.
Martinu’s wistful ‘Variations sur un thème slovaque’ from 1959 is the composer’s final composition, while Kodály’s attractive ‘Magyar Rondo’ from 1917, draws on material from the incidental music he had written for Zsigmond Móricz's play Pacsirtaszó (Skylarking). This SACD is completed with not one but two accounts of Bartok’s 1st Rhapsody written in 1928 for the violinist Josef Szigeti and later arranged for cello and piano by the composer. Each uses one of Bartók’s alternative endings for the work.
This recording has clearly been a labour of love for Miklós Perényi and I recommend it unreservedly.
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