Miklós Perényi plays Benjamin Britten’s Third Suite op. 87 and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite VI D-Dur BWV 1012, making plain an historical interconnection. Britten wrote his cello suites for Rostropovich, inspired by hearing him playing the Bach suites. Rostropovich hailed all of Britten’s cello suites as masterpieces but singled out the third (written 1971) for special praise: “sheer genius”, in his words. Into the fabric of the thematic material Britten wove fragments of melodies from Russian folk songs, only allowing them to emerge fully in the final movement. On this disc, Bach’s last cello suite follows Britten’s, and Perényi’s Bach dances with elegance and energy. The album concludes with a return to Hungary, and Ligeti’s cello sonata of 1948-1953. Ligeti released the piece for publication only in 1979, so it figures in the chronology (as Paul Griffiths points out in the notes) both before and after the Britten. This disc is Perényi’s first ECM solo recital, and follows his brilliant performance, alongside András Schiff, in the 2001/2 recordings of the Complete Music for Piano and Violoncello by Beethoven.
As Paul Griffiths writes, “Through Perényi’s artistry we come to understand how the sound of the cello – such a rich sound here, as natural as wood, with the grain and the strength of wood – cannot be separated from the composition being realized, nor the composition from its instrument. There is no music without sound, and there is no sound without music. Perényi’s sound speaks to us warmly and sagely and also humorously of the cello, of its sonorous possibilities, of its exceptionalness in western music as a solo instrument that addresses us from a low register, of its whole history and culture. We cannot forget for a moment that what we are hearing is cello sound, and the fine detail of this recording may even convince us at times that we are hearing the action of the cello being played. Yet in no way does this diminish our closeness to the music. On the contrary, the more we hear the sound, the more we hear the music.” (ECM Records)