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Nocturne, et lumineux - Hensels, Kramer

Nocturne, et lumineux - Hensels, Kramer

trptk  TTK0114

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber


Works by Koechlin, N Boulanger, Janacek, Bosmans, Poulenc

Eline Hensels (cello)
Daniël Kramer (piano)

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - March 25, 2024

These days it seems to be common musician’s practice to bless a new release with a title that covers literally or spiritually the various items of their chosen programme. It also is common practice to further explain the choice in a personal note in the booklet. In this case, the performers have opted for ‘Nocturne, et lumineux’, but without giving a clue to what was meant with it. We can only guess. A shortcoming? Well, ‘what’s in a name’? It’s the content that many will care about, leaving the guesswork to the more curious-minded people among us.

If it is about darkness and light, Charles Koechlin's Cello Sonata fits the idea rather well, though in a mixed order, with a somewhat brighter first movement preceding the darker tone in the second, followed by lots of light in the final movement. This is a lovingly presented entrance to a particularly charming recital, perfectly coloured in a late impressionist style by two passionate musicians. For us, it means revealing a well-presented case to learn more about a largely unknown French composer.

This Sonata is a delightful piece that should inspire other musicians and not least entrepreneurial label owners to further explore the Koechlin catalogue. His oeuvre offers an abundance to choose from! As for this sonata, there is no competition in High-Resolution and there are only (very) few recordings in Red Book format.

When I reviewed Fernando Arias (cello) and Noelia Rodiles (piano) in a recital entitled ‘Slavic Soul’ (Slavic Soul - Arias, Rodiles), I said about Janáček’s Fairy Tale Pohádka: “Rarely heard and rarely played”. What a mistake. A year later it was one of the compulsory choices of the Concours Reine Elisabeth 2022 Cello Competition. Following hard on those heels Aram Amatuni (cello) and Igor Tchetuev (piano) included it in their rendition of a ‘Russian-inspired romance’. As a result, there are now 7 high-resolution versions to choose from. A difficult task?

It must have been hard for the Reine Elisabeth jurors because having listened to several of the competitors, it was by no means easy to differentiate between and decide about the various interpretations. I say this because Eline Hensel was one of the contenders. In her version of Pohadka, I liked what she did, and several challengers were, in my view, better than the performance of the overall winner. Technically supreme but attacking the Fairy Tale as though it was a Scary Tale.

Eline does not. With her dreamily enchanting approach, she captures the listener's attention right from the start. Her lyrical tale is one of make-believe, delicately yet firmly and professionally assisted by her partner, Daniël Kramer, bringing this secretive story to a happy end.

About Poulenc’s Sonata, I was mistaken, too. Hardly known, seldom played and little recorded, that’s what I thought (Cello Music - Amatuni, Tchetuev). That, at least, is true in Super Audio. As for the Low-Res format, there are several, though perhaps primarily ‘for completeness’s sake’ as part of a French Cellist Sonatas Programme. Whatever the case, we (and that includes me!) must now recognise that its popularity is quickly rising, and -by all means- rightly so. It isn’t easy stuff, and some call the Sonata even ‘awkward’.

We ought to be immensely grateful to the Hensel-Kramer team for lifting this once-ridiculed Sonata to the level of enjoyment it deserves. Their interpretation is further proof that in the hands of dedicated and capable musicians, this ‘awkward’ Sonata comes of age and may now be seen as having joined the ranks of core repertoire ‘for cellists with a sufficient degree of insight and virtuosity’. The more so, as those requirements are in high demand to turn any idea about awkwardness into one of brilliant innovation, especially in the two final movements. A mission that has perfectly been accomplished by either.

For brevity, I have limited myself to the larger works, but there is more new news in this programme: Nadia Boulanger’s ‘Trois pièces’ and, even more so, Henriëtte Bosmans’s ‘Nuit calme’. Both are new to me and a real pleasure to discover. I suggest reading the related notes, and also the informative remarks about the other works. What is missing, though, are the usual bios of the musicians. A minor detail that can be solved through a simple search on the internet.

In conclusion: The prime importance of this recent TRPTK release rests in the fact that it fills with the usual high musical as well as the recorded standard an important gap in the High-Resolution Catalogue, adding, furthermore, the possibility of a Spatial Audio Download.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2024 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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