These three magnificent works belong in the repertoire of cellists everywhere. They are full of Villa-Lobos’ signature exotic instrumental textures, folk-like melodies, and abundant invention. They are also harder than hell to play, and difficult to balance. Villa-Lobos was a cellist himself, and loved the instrument’s low, dark register. Penetrating his dense orchestration without making the instrument sound like a dying cow is just one of the many challenges facing cellists attempting to come to grips with this marvelously expressive music, though recordings can solve this problem with sensitive microphone placement. Antonio Meneses understands both the music and its performance problems, and his lower register manages to sound gruff without undue signs of bovine distress. He’s helped by some very sensitive accompaniments; Pérez projects the music’s lush timbres without laying it on too thick.
The second cello concerto, entitled: Y: la fiesta está en pleno apogeo – And: The feast is in full progress (1993), is based on a poem by the Chuvash poet Gennadi Aigi. The vision of a raging mass of people awaiting the last Judgment is transformed into music by the composer with gripping, immediate, expressive force, free of graphic patterns. A moment of glory not for Gubaidulina only, but for David Geringas on cello, too. And as a bonus on this CD: Diez Preludios –Ten Preludes for Cello, in Vladimir Tonkha’s equally inspired interpretation. Both cellists are the dedicatees of the works they perform.
Before anything else is said, it has to be admitted that the 1963 recording with Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter is beyond all argument the greatest set of Beethoven's cello sonatas ever recorded. Nevertheless, for the single best recording of Beethoven's cello sonata, it should be this 1965 recording by Pierre Fournier and Wilhelm Kempff. Because while Rostropovich and Richter are the greater virtuosos, their virtuosity is also inevitably the prism through which Beethoven's music radiates and his music is colored by their virtuosity.