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CD Feature/ Zuill Bailey & Simone Dinnerstein: "Beethoven - Cello & Piano Sonatas Volume One"

img  Tobias

Simone Dinnerstein is not afraid of the big ones. Her upcoming solo debut will feature a rendition of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” and on this, her first CD in conjunction with her duo partner Zuill Bailey, the name BEETHOVEN looks down on the two protagonists with an overwhelming superiority, as if its letters had been carved in stone – but her gaze remains calm and composed. She has every reason to be confident: The composer’s piano and cello sonatas are an excellent territory to make one’s voice heard and she is more than anxious to speak out.

If Dinnerstein is perfectly cool in her contact with history, then so is Zuill Bailey. Thanks to his extensive experience as a chamber musician, especially in his work as a member of the Perlman-Schmidt-Bailey trio, he is no stranger to the immediacy and unfiltered directness these pieces require with regards to the interaction between the performers. Quite on the contrary: Both musicians revel in it. You can hear it right at the end of the introduction to the first sonata, when Bailey’s sends thick strokes of warm cello resonances to Dinnerstein, who uses them to open up the next movement in a flurry. In the second movement, the partners engage in a circular exchange, exploring the backroads with inquisitive minds, before returning to the main motive again and ripping through it with a smile on their face and a new detail each time. If the duo has a message to spread on this release, then it must surely be that there is a lot of brilliance in Beethoven, but not quite as much stern seriousness as most might think. Benjamin Folkman picks up on this in his highly readable liner notes, exposing both the conservative nature of these works (the first sonata was, after all, still dedicated to Beethoven’s teacher Haydn) and their revolutionary (albeit gradual) emancipation of the cello as an quitable partner to the piano – something previously unheard of. The production mirrors this thouight and goes hand in hand with the interpretation. Sometimes, Bailey is the prominent voice, on another occasion, Dinnerstein will come to the fore but most of the time, they enhance each other in a prancing dialogue. In the slow opening Adagio of the second sonata, this closeness results in the instruments melting into a single sheet of powerful, bulky and dramatic sound.

These sonatas use freedom in architecture as a compensation for the – at the time – unusual arrangement and most of them are marked by a single, dominant movement, with the others often reduced to ouvertures or afterthoughts. With Bailey and Dinnerstein, this does not represent an imbalance, however. The fluency of their approach binds all parts together into long, but never lengthy compositions. Which means that as  a listener, too, you will for once not have to be afraid of the big ones.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Simone Dinnerstein
Homepage: Zuill Bailey
Homepage: Delos Records

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