- 31 July, 2008
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Hungarian Music for Cello and Piano featuring cellist Mark Kosower and pianist Jee-Won Oh is now available from Naxos. The recording begins with Bartók’s First Rhapsody, an arrangement of Transylvanian folk music aimed at popularizing his music in a lighter, more popular, genre. The cello often carries the folk melodies, while the piano offers a playful accompaniment. Liszt’s Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth is sparsely scored and evokes a religious atmosphere of haunting solitude. The dramatic song is filled with images, fantasy, and memories but always maintains an underlying feeling of nostalgia. Mazurka in G minor, Op. 11, No. 3 and Serenade, Op. 54, No. 2 are salon songs composed by cellist and teacher David Popper. While the Mazurka is an artful expression of the Polish dance, the Serenade shows the influence of Spanish gypsies. Adagio by Zoltán Kodály is decidedly individual in tone despite the influence that Brahms had on the then young composer. Ruralia Hungarica by Kodály was originally written as a set of seven pieces for solo piano in 1923. Dohnányi then proceeded to set five of these pieces for orchestra, three for violin and piano, and one for cello and piano (as recorded here). Both works are expressions of the pious life of the Hungarian peasant. The four-movement Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 8 by Ernő Dohnányi is written in the tradition of the great Romantic sonata. The piano-writing is well-conceived and is very difficult which undoubtedly reflects Dohnányi’s abilities as a pianist. The cello generally plays a melodic role throughout the Sonata as melody is very aptly suited for the resonance of the cello. Last, but certainly not least, comes a work for virtuoso cellists, Toccata carpricciosa for solo cello, Op. 36 composed by Miklós Rósza. Toccata carpricciosa has three distinct sections, each portraying a different range of emotions, only to finish in a searing and resolute passage performed by the solo cello.One of the outstanding cellists of his generation, Mark Kosower is hailed by musicians and critics alike for his instrumental mastery and deep musical integrity. Mark has performed with the Toledo and Florida symphony orchestras, at the Aspen Music Festival, has held recitals at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and at New York City’s Merkin Hall and appears on another Naxos recording released in June 2008, Ginastera’s complete works for cello and piano (8570569). Mr. Kosower has collaborated with many prominent conductors such as James DePreist, Christoph Eschenbach, JoAnn Falletta, Erich Kunzel, Nicholas McGegan, Anton Nanut, Stefan Sanderling, Gunther Schuller, Gerard Schwarz, Joseph Silverstein and Hugh Wolff.
Born in Seoul, the Korean pianist Jee-Won Oh has performed internationally as soloist and chamber musician in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. She has made appearances in some of the world’s great musical centers, including the cities of Belgrade, Paris, Salzburg, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC. She has performed on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center in New York as well as at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Salle Gaveau in Paris, Kumho Art Hall in Seoul, and at the Sala Cecilia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro. She has also participated in such prestigious music festivals as the Schleswig-Holstein Festival and the Ernen Musikdorf, and she appears regularly at the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival and the Sitka Music Festival.