L'Homme Armé: Works for Solo Cello
09 March 2006
Cellists seeking substantial solo
contemporary repertoire are faced with an abundance of excellent
options, including the works on this disc devoted to Danish composers.
It opens with a 17-minute tour-de-force by Poul Ruders, where the
composer subjects the ancient hit tune L'Homme Armé to a vigorous,
imaginative set of etudes that feel more like variations. At times Ruder
requires the cellist to sing, whistle, and make percussive noises,
anticipating some of the techniques Frederic Rzewski uses in his 1990
L'Homme Armé variations for solo piano. Morten Zeuthen's fearless
technique and energetic momentum easily set reference standards for a
piece that deserves far more attention than it's had outside of Denmark.
, and Nielsen
selections resulted from
Zeuthen commissioning pieces rooted in the lilting Siciliana rhythm.
Ironically, a stronger, more immediately palpable dance element abounds
throughout Per Nørgård
's three-movement sonata. But you have to listen
carefully to grasp the slow, underlying Siciliana rhythm in the
Sonata's quiet third movement, whose sparse high-register
whispers and gentle plucks would not be out of place in Morton Feldman's
universe. Vagn Holmboe
's three-movement sonata opens with a declamatory
prelude full of subtle interval choices and melodic twists that avert
all declamatory prelude clichés. Cellists have their work cut out for
them regarding the central Fugue, where the music's inherent wit and
slippery rhythmic displacements draw attention away from the sheer
virtuosic demands. Again, Zeuthen embraces the score from head to toe in
an impassioned, communicative performance. There's great music awaiting
your discovery here, as well as a fabulous cellist.