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Classics for Pleasure has decided to market Miss Clein with a couple of photos displaying her as seductive siren against a background of delicately disappearing leaves. This is a successful, knee-weakening gambit, but at the same time unfair to the cellist. Somehow her playing must live up to the portraits, and I'm not sure it does. She has a warm, sympathetic tone, and much of the quasi-Minuet movement is beautifully pointed. But that fugue: trouble looms when Charles Owen takes the bit between his teeth and gallops away at full volume. Occasionally Miss Clein resembles the photographic leaves and all but disappears. She reappears, however, when Brahms at last relents [listen -- 5 86146 2 track 10, 1:36-2:54].

The cellist Brahms had in mind for Sonata No 2 was Robert Hausmann, a member of the Joachim Quartet who went on to give the première with Joachim of the Brahms Double Concerto. The Newest Grove reminds us his tone was said to be 'unusually powerful' and 'trombonelike'. Hence the bold symphonic opening to Op 99, where the cello must imperiously dominate the keyboard tremolos. A trombone could, Miss Clein can't. She admits in the liner notes she feels like a tiro mountaineer attempting Everest. On this occasion she has not reached the summit [listen -- 5 86146 2 track 1, 0:01-1:23].

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Copyright © 23 February 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK


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