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Bach: Piano Quintet, "Wolga" - Cello Sonata - Suite for Cello Solo

Bach: Piano Quintet, "Wolga" - Cello Sonata - Suite for Cello Solo

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A MusicWeb International Recording of the Month for July 2022!

All in all Maria Bach left more than 400 works to posterity. Most (about 80%) are Lieder and choral works, followed by smaller-scale piano works; not unlike Edvard Grieg or Hugo Wolff, she was an expert in that field, though she did also compose three ballets, made up of small, orchestral piano pieces. Her most ambitious works then, are the few excursions she made into the realms of chamber music (solo cello sonata, cello sonata, piano quartet and quintet, string quintet and two string quartets), in which she ventured a confrontation with the traditions of the grand, established genres. On the present release, Oliver Triendl, Marina Grauman, Nina Karmon, Öykü Canpolat, and Alexander Hülshoff showcase Maria Bach’s chamber works, including the Piano Quintet “Wolga-Quintet”, the Cello Sonata, and the Suite for Cello Solo.


[Maria Bach's] music is infused with French and Russian elements and one can quite hear why it was so appealing to Roger-Ducasse who ensured that her 31-minute Piano Quintet was performed at the Paris Conservatoire when she visited Paris in 1930-31. Like all good music it’s clearly susceptible to strongly divergent interpretive stances. The Hänssler team is anchored by Oliver Treindl, who in my experience is probably one of the most hard-working and often recorded of players. He’s also an athletic figure who ensures forward-moving tempi.

The eminent cellist Paul Grümmer was a family friend and Bach was fortunate he liked her music and played the Cello Sonata frequently. It’s modestly structured – three movements and 19 minutes in this reading by Alexander Hülshoff and Treindl – and has a ripe Brahmsian rhapsodic feel, with a warmly curvaceous lyricism in the Romanze second movement. As with the Piano Quintet the finale is full of dextrous animation.

The final work in the disc is the Suite for cello, a crisp four-movement affair that looks back to Popper, as the notes indicate, rather than [J.S.] Bach. After a sonorous, chordal Praeludium come the registral leaps of an etude-like Scherzo, an expressive Air and then another of her favoured variations for a finale – including a Tango-like one – which call for supple bowing. It’s a deft work, all the more so in not honouring [J.S.] Bach’s legacy in any obvious fashion.

In terms of amplitude and density of sound this disc is an impressive one. The players sound firmly engaged in what must have been unfamiliar repertoire. They’ve been backed up by some classy notes. For overt expression, choose this[.]

Jonathan Woolf 

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Hänssler & Profil
    • UPC/Barcode: 881488210514
    • Item Number: HC21051