On Duo, her second Cobra album Nuala McKenna has once again made a selection of particularly beautiful 20th century pieces which also show her exceptional talent as a cellist. She is here to be heard in a duo together with Robert Kulek. This is an Exclusive Early Release, available in Stereo, 5 Channel Surround Sound and Binaural DSD from NativeDSD Music. It follows her earlier album Solo, a best seller that is also available at NativeDSD.
All three composers wrote the works brought on this album Duo in disturbing and turbulent times; during a world war. Bohuslav Martinů’s Cello Sonata No.1, premiered in 1940, is an exciting, dramatic work and the melodies with a Czech character convey his nostalgia for his homeland. Martinů was persecuted by the Nazi regime because of his ties to the Czech resistance movement and thus he fled to the United States with his family in 1940. He called the premiere of his first cello sonata the ‘last greeting from a better world’.
Francis Poulenc’s safety was endangered during the Nazi regime due to his homosexuality and his ties to the resistance movement ‘Front National des Musiciens’ which had close connections to persecuted musicians such as Milhaud and Hindemith. Poulenc composed his Sonata for cello and piano in 1940 shortly after being discharged from military service following France’s capitulation to Germany. It took another eight years for the composition to be completed so that it could be finally premiered in 1949. The sonata was received with little enthusiasm. Some critics rated it as ‘pleasant but nothing more.’
Paul Hindemith’s early works 3 pieces for cello and piano Op.8 were composed in 1917, the third year of World War I, shortly before being drafted into military service. Between 1913 and 1920, disturbing times and his circle of young conservatory friends inspired Hindemith to write a total of seven so-called ‘dramatic masterpieces’ – whimsical, almost surrealistic pieces whose subjects usually have an autobiographical background. Later he dismissed his works from this creative period as ‘unbearable’, but towards the end of his life he saw these works in a different perspective and attempted to publish them.
Nuala McKenna – Cello
Robert Kulet – Piano
Read a full Music Review from reviewer Adrian Quanjer of HRAudio.
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:05:11
Merging – HAPI
Egbert Luijs (studioEGT)
Brüel & Kjaer 4003, Neumann modified by Rens Heijnis
|Original Recording Format|
Charles Rademaker & Matthijs Jongepier
WestVest90, Schiedam, The Netherlands
|Release Date||October 13, 2023|
This is Nuala McKenna’s second album with Cobra Records and I’ve been looking forward to another album from her since her 2021 release of “Solo: Kodaly, Ligeti and Britten” in which it was clear that she had the talent and technical chops to create many more excellent recordings. This album of works by Martinů, Poulenc and Hindemith is an excellent return to the recording studio for her as she very successfully takes on three challenging 20th century works for cello and piano. What an utter delight!
McKenna and Kulek perform these works with an attractive mix of intensity, drama, longing, and loving beauty. In each case, we get a rewarding gift of fine musicianship and technical excellence.
The recording is as excellent as I have come to expect from Cobra Records’ owner and recording engineer Tom Peeters. Again we have an intimate, utterly natural sounding capture of two musicians in a very nice acoustic setting, with a perfect balance of direct and reflected sound. Highly detailed, but never sounding overly close.
Listening to Nuala McKenna it is clear to me that she possesses the talent and the technical skills allowing her to give ample and refined expression to her reading of a score in order to obtain a superbly rewarding result.
NativeDSD Senior Reviewer
I Love The Duo!
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