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Antonio Meneses (cello) Gérard Wyss (piano)

Works for cello and piano (including transcriptions by the Italian composer and cellist Alfredo Piatt
AVIE AV2007 [2006,73 mins]

Adagio and Allegro in A flat, Op. 70; Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; Fünf Stücke im Volkston for cello and piano, Op. 102; Märchenbilder Op. 113 (transcr. Piatti/Bellisario)
SCHUBERT Arpeggione Sonata in A minor D.821
[2006,79 mins]

In both their well balanced programmes received for review, Meneses & Wyss necessarily rely upon arrangements for cello of music originally composed for other instruments; horn, clarinet, arpeggione and piano solo. This is reasonable and at the times of publication it was usual to offer alternatives to increase performance opportunities and sales.

Are there any recordings of the Schubert on the intended instrument? High time, if not!

Of the Schumann selection, only the Fünf Stücke im Volkston were intended for cello (I have long loved the Rostropovich/ Britten recording of them, coupled with the Schubert/Arpeggione - but once you get into comparatives with this repertoire, there is no ending...).

But all the arrangements sit well on cello and these are affectionate accounts which make for a good sequence. The Schubert gets a loving performance, sympathetically accompanied (and here that is the right word) by Wyss.

The latest to be released is their Mendelssohn listdisc, a convenient compilation of the composer's several works for cello & piano, his strenuous sonatas placed in a helpful context of smaller pieces to lower the tension.

There are the early Variations, a charming Song without words (the only one of those not for solo piano) and three of the others arranged for cello by Piatti, "the last cellist not to play with a spike !" (he is also responsible for the transcription of the Schumann Märchenbilder from the viola original).

The two sonatas are strenuous affairs, with the pianist especially required to play a forest of notes in the outer movements. Balance is good, but they might sound less relentless with a period piano? Notable highlights in No 2 are the cello pizzicatos in the second movement (an "ever so sightly restrained scherzo"), and a solemn chorale piece to follow it.

Two amiable CDs recommendable without reservation to cello collectors, both of them graced by a goodly number of session photos, which brings the studio process to life for the listener. For a fuller survey of the history of the earlier disc's music, see Michael Cookson in MusicWeb's more comprehensive prescribed style.

Peter Grahame Woolf