The Hungarian Miklós Perényi is recognised as one of the great cellists of his generation, with a distinctive, subtly nuanced sound matched by extraordinary musicality. Here he gives his first solo recital for ECM, performing notable works by Bach, Britten and Ligeti. It follows his brilliant performance, alongside András Schiff, in the award-winning recordings for the label of the Complete Music for Piano and Violoncello by Beethoven.
Perényi plays Benjamin Britten’s Third Suite for solo cello, op. 97 and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No 6 in D major, BWV 1012, making plain their historical interconnection.
Britten wrote his cello suites for Mstislav Rostropovich, inspired by hearing him playing the Bach suites. Rostropovich hailed all of Britten’s cello suites as masterpieces but singled out the Third (written in 1971) for special praise: “sheer genius”, in his words. Into the fabric of the thematic material Britten wove fragments of melodies from Russian folk songs, only allowing them to emerge fully in the final movement. On this disc, Bach’s last cello suite follows Britten’s, and Perényi’s Bach dances with elegance and energy.
The album concludes with a return to Hungary, and György Ligeti’s Sonata for solo cello of 1948-1953. Ligeti released the piece for publication only in 1979, so it figures in the chronology (as Paul Griffiths point out in the notes) both before and after the Britten.
Meanwhile a significant piece in the contemporary repertoire, it’s a powerful, heartfelt work from a composer who had himself studied the cello.
Benjamin Britten: Third Suite for Cello, Op.87
I. Introduzione: Lento
II. Marcia: Allegro
III. Canto: Con moto
IV. Barcarola: Lento
V. Dialogo: Allegretto
VI. Fuga: Andante espressivo
VII. Recitativo: Fantastico
VIII. Moto perpetuo: Presto
IX. Passacaglia: Lento solenne
Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite for Cello Solo No.6 in D, BWV 1012
György Ligeti: Sonata for Solo Cello
I. Dialogo: Adagio, rubato, cantabile
II. Capriccio: Presto con slancio
“In Britten's Suite...Perenyi skilfully reconciles its vividly characterised joined-up miniatures within a bigger picture...Of Perenyi's performances, it's his Ligeti that steals the show. Not surprisingly, Perenyi shapes its Hungarian elements idiomatically, effortlessly taking on the Diagolo's balancing contradictions.”
31st March 2012
“the kind of artist you can’t help respecting: his integrity and musicianship are self-evident...He ennobles the Britten and Ligeti, and makes Bach sing and dance in the most seductive style.”
“in many ways, Perenyi's playing has something of Rostropovich about it - muscular and expansive, with tightly disciplined drive...Perenyi concentrates on the sonorities of the instrument...doing such justice to [the Britten] in his warm, old-school playing that he manages to pull the threads of Britten, Rostropovich, his own musical heritage and the Bach Suites together so minutely that it is impossible not to apprehend the point he is trying to make”
15th January 2012
“This disc of solo cello music...offers a chance to hear the Hungarian cellist Miklós Perényi (b.1948) at his virtuosic best...Perényi has a warm, big-boned, springy tone and brings expressive variety to Britten's Suite No. 3 Op. 87...Ligeti's two-movement, folk-inspired sonata (1948-53), dating from the dark days of Hungary and not approved for broadcast by the Soviet authorities, makes an atmospheric conclusion.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.