STEVEN ISSERLIS & OLLI MUSTONEN
Martinů: Cello Sonatas Nos. 1–3; Mustonen: Cello Sonata; Sibelius: Malinconia
Steven Isserlis (cello), Olli Mustonen (piano)
This disc would be remarkable for the intelligence of its planning even without the ardent energy of the performances. Olli Mustonen made his mark as both pianist and composer in his early teens, showing astonishing maturity in both capacities. But recordings have not kept up with his output promptly enough to allow the outside world to form a clear image of his development as composer: it has been 13 years since a CD of his music was last released, and he has written two symphonies in that time.
This superb cello sonata deserves a place in the mainstream. The first of its four movements begins with a melody repeatedly drifting downwards, like a speck of dust on the surface of the eye; an exquisitely expressive Andantino alternates with a bustling scherzo before a bridging Precipitato darts nervously into the finale, which at first insists on calm before slowly accelerating into a climax of increasing excitement.
Steven Isserlis’ engaging booklet notes refer to Sibelius’ Malinconia as ‘a tone poem for cello and piano in which the darkness of Finland’s mysterious forests alternates with the consoling sound of human chant’. Isserlis and Mustonen fly at it with passion, as they also do, exhilaratingly, in the three Martinů works.