Adam Grabois, cello -- John Nauman, piano
Playing Time: 55:27
In these days of dwindling classical audiences and limited recording
opportunity, self-publishing has becoming the norm, especially
in the classical, jazz and book worlds. If it was good enough for
Charles Dickens, I guess it is good enough for the rest of us.
When listening to this initial recording from Reflex Editions,
it was a little sad to realize, however, that if Messrs. Grabois
and Nauman had not had the energy and gumption to set the ball
rolling, their exceptional talents may never have been heard in
the mainstream. Lucky for us the energy level and passion of youngsters
such as these infuses the general malaise of the music industry.
The nicely-packaged CD gets off to a pleasant start with Beethoven's
7 Variations in Eb major on 'Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen'
from Mozart's The Magic Flute. This fairly innocuous Beethoven
has moments of brilliance, and the gentle manner in which he sets
Mozart's melody is brought out most musically by both cellist and
pianist. The next piece is a quantum leap from the Variations.
The Debussy Cello Sonata is a major work for the instrument and
Grabois offers a fine performance. Although not erasing the memory
of Rostropovich and Piatigorsky's sound, Grabois' tone is rich,
then pungent and penetrating when required. Great pizzicato, too.
After this impressionistic gem, Nauman and Grabois give a superb
rendition of Rachmaninov's G minor Sonata. Although Stravinsky
described Rachmaninov as a walking, six-foot scowl, this masterful
piece has its composer writing with great passion and has moments
of joy and exultation.
Each of the performances is first-rate, the Swarthmore-trained
cellist singing the cello lines ever so musically and the Juilliard
grad pianist accompanying where necessary and taking a magical
solo part when called upon. To capture such elegant performances
while raising money, editing and mixing tape, organizing liner
notes, producing packaging, arranging distribution and delivery
is no mean feat!
The interesting thing about Grabois' venture is the complete control
he allows (will be allowing) the musicians over every aspect of
recording, producing and editing. As this is the first release,
it'll be interesting to hear future CDs with other musicians --
I am sure Grabois will keep his promise of allowing the individual
artist complete control. With this in mind, I'm sure the roster
of artists Reflex chooses will be first-class.
The actual recording is fairly dry (and detailed), but with the
players set in an 'honest' space. A 'no-fiddling' policy seemed
to be the order of the day here. As such, Da-Hong Seetoo has recorded
a winner. Presence and fidelity go hand in hand.