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CD Review

Julius Röntgen

Cello Sonatas, Volume 2

  • Cello Sonata #2 in A minor (1901)
  • Cello Sonata #7 in C Sharp minor (1917)
  • Cello Sonata #10 in A minor (1927)
Jean Decroos, cello
Danièle Dechenne, piano
Ars Produktion FCD368439 2006
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Three years ago I enthusiastically reviewed this German-Dutch composer's cello concertos, piano concertos and other works for this site. A few months ago I heard a broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio of one of his fourteen cello sonatas, acquired this disc, and am pleased to report that the three recorded here, written over the range of his last three decades, are also filled with delights.

Julius Röntgen's (1864-1955) style would best be pigeon-holed as post-romantic, I suppose, but they sound more timeless than that. Harmonically they are conservative; melodically and rhythmically they are fresh and inventive, without any heavy emotional baggage of any sort. They are light-hearted and cheerful and they speak for themselves, so I am not going to describe them in detail. (Any of my regular readers will be relieved, I'm sure.)

Sonata #2, was written for the Rotterdam virtuoso Isaák Mossel who, after a decade as solo cellist with the Concertgebouw, departed on account of repeated conflicts with Willem Mengelberg. The large number of cello concertos Röntgen wrote subsequently may have resulted from the fact that the composer had two sons who were excellent cellists. Anyway, he seems to have been a happy man who did not run out of things to say musically.

The recording is good and these performances are vigorous and well-paced. Decroos and Dechenne, a husband-wife duo, are both prize-winners with a number of recordings. Decroos studied with Paul Tortellier at the Paris Conservatoire, where Dechenne also studied. Decroos is Professor at the Conservatories in Amsterdam, the Hague and Barcelona. Dechenne is senior tutor at the Amsterdam Conservatoire.

These sonatas deserve to be better known and more widely performed. Enthusiastically recommended to listeners and cellists.

Copyright © 2010, R. James Tobin