Solo is the debut album on Cobra Records from cellist Nuala McKenna. Like all recent Cobra releases, you can enjoy Solo in Stereo, Multichannel and even Binaural DSD (for headphone listeners).
Nuala McKenna says “My answer: ‘Just a chair, please’, to ‘What do I need on stage?’, still provokes amusing reactions. Throughout the years I have developed a great love for the solo repertoire and learned a lot about myself in the process.
This album is the result of the experiences I had connecting with this music. The recording takes place in the wonderfully sounding church of Renswoude (Netherlands) in April 2020.
Four sunny days and yet overshadowed by the recently announced restrictions on public life due to the coronavirus outbreak. Fortunately, the fact that I’m playing solo makes the recording possible under these circumstances.
I enjoy the communion with my instrument. At the same time, I have no notion that in the next few months audience members in concert halls will be replaced by microphones all over the world.”
Nuala McKenna – Cello
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:08:48
Bru?el & Kjaer 4003, Neumann modified by Rens Heijnis
|Original Recording Format|
Tom Peeters, Mediatrack
Koepelkerk, Renswoude, the Netherlands (April 2020)
|Release Date||January 22, 2021|
There is so much technical certainty and expressive finesse that I was glued to my chair from the first bars of Kodály’s extremely difficult Solo Sonata. With her playing, Noala McKenna makes so strikingly clear what Bartók remarked about that sonata. That there was no other composer who could write anything that even remotely resembled it. While, like Kodály, he had earned his spurs in the field of recording and later processing of Hungarian folk music in his own compositions.
Nuala McKenna’s playing exudes World Class. In this case she seamlessly combines flawless technique with a distinctly personal vision of these three equally individualistic works. I think I can conclude from this that she will do things differently now than in April of last year in that little church in Renswoude. That is the individualism that speaks so much of these renditions and that commands the greatest admiration.
On this album, the Cello has rarely been captured so faithfully as by Tom Peeters. What a production this is!
It’s almost an open door. If it’s played well, you’ll be there and the tension will be palpable.
Nuala McKenna succeeds from the first note. She is helped Tom Peters of Cobra Records, who once again shows how to highlight a musical piece with his fine recording technique!
Basia Con Fuoco
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Kodály’s Sonata played better, and I’ve heard quite a lot of them.
In Ligeti, too, she shows herself to be a master of the instrument. In Britten she has a bit more competition, but also in Britten her reading is simply unparalleled.
Nuala McKenna favors depth and an intimate atmosphere (the first movement), just as she dazzles with her brilliance (the second piece). The pizzicato chords are adorned with an unprecedented vibrating warmth, and the bowings gain in fervor and vivacity, punctuated by the clarity and finesse of the attacks.
Although we do not perceive amorous passion in this reading, we are dealing with a musically and technically irreproachable game, impressive by the maturity and the commitment, but also revealing a rare poetic intensity as much as a certain austerity, and this, despite the rhythmic complexity of these pages.
Nuala McKenna gives us a touching performance in its simplicity and contemplative character, where each sentence, even each motif, finds its rightful place. Her bow distills dense and homogeneous timbres, relatively dry, but also round and warm, with a pleasant effect. Less luminous and less theatrical than Truls Mørk (Virgin / Erato), she proves to be more deeply immersed in the very substance of this music.
Here is the debut of an artist who attracted attention from the start of her career. The sound recording allows you to revel in a great richness in harmonics and a balanced sound space with little reverberation. We are looking forward to her next album!
Is it remarkable that since Bach wrote his six Suites for Solo Cello around 1720, no one of significance dared to write such solo works for this instrument again until after Kodály with his Solo Sonata.
For her solo debut, Nuala McKenna chose a beautifully varied program that is like a showcase in which she shows her skills. To begin with, they consist of great virtuosity, supplemented with a great sense of style and a great expressive feeling. It led to a very beautiful and captivating program and makes us look forward to more beautiful things from her. An additional advantage is that she treats the listener to far from everyday music.
McKenna always keeps the essence of these works in focus and clarifies them with beautiful details. She also has the right temperament and presents the music with an sometimes orchestral richness of sound.
A highlight is Kodály’s ‘Adagio con grand’ espressione’. To achieve this beautiful result, the cellist had access to a Joseph Guarnerius instrument.
Her technique is impeccable. But technique alone is too little to fascinate, especially if you have your cello as your only partner.
Rarely have I been so glued to my chair as I am now, listening to this album. Incredibly exciting from the first moment.
And the tension didn’t fade. It was chilling, almost thriller-like. Palpable to the last note.
Nuala McKenna knocked me out with her playing and if I may be honest, this knockout feels more than good. The recording is also sublime.
BBC Music Magazine
Her ‘take’ on Britten’s First Suite is strikingly contemporary: each movement is reimagined almost as an improvisatory soundscape. The sound recording itself is something of a work of art, the reverberant acoustic carefully controlled, the sound saturated, each articulation in close-up…It takes guts to tackle the Kodály, but she has the measure of it and the range of colours.
What timbres she gets out of the Guarneri cello, what extremes she is able to shape, it’s not quite out of this world.
McKenna seduces you to listen. She designs every detail without getting lost in it. Her debut album is an event.
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