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Sergei Rachmaninoff: Twelve Romances, opus 21: n° 7 “How Fair This Spot” – Morceaux de fantaisie, opus 3 n°1 “Elégie” (arr. A. Vlasov) and n° 9 “Melody” – Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor, opus 19 – Fourteen Songs, opus 34, n° 14: “Vocalise” (arr. S. Yokoyama)
Manuel de Falla: Suite populaire espagnole, n° 2 [after n° 5 from Siete canciones populares españolas]: “Nana” (arr. M. Maréchal) – Suite populaire espagnole, n° 5 [after n° 3 from Siete canciones populares españolas]: “Asturiana” (arr. M. Maréchal)
Enrique Granados: Danzas españolas, n° 2: “Oriental” (arr. G. Piatigorsky)
Traditional: El Cant dels ocells (arr. P. Casals)

Recording: Teldex Studio, Berlin, Germany (August 24-28, 2020) – 62' 41
Pablo Ferrández (cello), Denis Kozhukhin (piano)
Sony Classical 19439853782 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English, Spanish and German

This cellist sings with delight and compassionate passion. Turn to photo on page 18: in cocooned repose, Pablo Ferrández’s enrapture hovers over his lusciously earthy 1696 “Lord Aylesford”, sending forth magnetic waves of intimacy with his beloved instrument. Enter Pablo Ferrández’s world of arcane beauty and be dazzled by refinement and immaculate grace. He’s quoted, “Most of the music I listen to is piano or voice”; therefore, the sound of the human vox is what he strives to translate. Vibrato, one of his most powerful attributes, cleanly shows how he relishes “singing with strings”...it’s ardently lyrical. To this extent, this is a way we become better acquainted with Pablo Ferrández, the person.

Sensitivity abounds, and around each bend Pablo Ferrández personally reaches out to us to channel his thoughts; the narration is exceedingly convincing. Rachmaninoff’s romantic Zdes’ khorosho, with its bounteous grounding, becomes a tearful reverie. A counterbalance to this Russian composition segues to de Falla’s elusive distance inside Nana that also carries forward during Asturiana with alluring mystique. But heartbreak comes in strong doses when reaching back to M. Ferrández’s parlance of the Rachmaninoff Elégie...the musical conversation intensifies.

The predominant Sonata for Piano and Cello has a multi-tiered emotional discovery that's enlivened by Denis Kozhukhin’s nimble finesses: the listener is absorbed and time stands still. We’re funneled into deep colloquy with a most talkative cello during the capricious “Allegro scherzando”, and the charm keeps piling on. Meanwhile, the “Andante’s” tête-à-tête is one of the most endearing outreaches. Pablo Ferrández knows when to push and pull with bands of panache. The artists' marriage of Rachmaninoff’s notes permit superb flexibility which yields stronger aggressiveness and important apexes. Fixated by a backdrop of lushness and absorbency, the translation has an ideal trim and a well-apportioned balance of tempo and sound.

Conversely, however, the Vocalise loses traction by playing heavily on the ambitious side, though the saccharine excesses are held at bay. The same holds true during Granados’ Oriental which overexerts.

One of the highlights of “Reflections” is left for last, that of the Catalonian Christmas song, El Cant dels ocells, although Pablo Casals’ arrangement obviates the exotically wiry oscillations. The treat is that Pablo Ferrández executes each and every note sharply and crisply with a lovely balance of portamento.

This young gentleman’s musical vocabulary is extraordinary. Pablo Ferrández’s heart and soul and cello become one. Highly recommended.

Pablo Ferrández Website

Christie Grimstad




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