Gramaphone talks to Ovidiu Marinescu

Published: July 1, 2013

Originally Published By: Gramophone Magazine

The cellist on making the worldpremiere recordings of eight cello pieces for his CD ‘Moto perpetuo’

How did you choose what to record?

I approached the label with the concept of recording new music for cello, or for cello in partnership with other instruments. In conjunction with the recording was to be a set of live performances – the highlight will be a Carnegie Hall concert on October 15. So we put a call out for composers, and we received various submissions. We chose music that we liked, and that we believed was good. This presented an initial challenge though – how were we going to present a unified disc of music that is so varied? But I think the average listener today is very divergent, and so this disc has a little bit for everybody. It introduces sweet and sour, hot and cold, in such an organic way that listeners might be introduced to new music and find they like it.

All the composers are American, bar one…

Andrew March is from the UK and he wrote Three Pieces for solo cello particularly for me. My Bach Cello Suites recording inspired him to write music for cello with me in mind and he sent a movement to the label. I was so moved that when this project came about we invited Andrew to submit his works as well, and he wrote two other pieces to form this set of three wonderful movements.
What does this CD say about the cello? The cello is a maverick. It can demonstrate beauty of sound and virtuosity but also works in chamber music. This was never intended to be a show-off ‘here is me’ type of project. Maybe that’s one of its strengths – that it takes the listener on a journey of different colours.

Do you have a favourite work?

I want to go to Arthur Gottschalk’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, In Memoriam. I sensed from the beginning that each movement has a powerful message. I had to ask myself, what did Art feel when he wrote this? It’s what’s beyond the musical text, what’s between the notes, that brings the piece to life.

Ascioti Adirondack Meditation a Bartholomew Beneath the Apple Tree b Beeler Dance Suite c . One Good Turn Deserves Another. Variations on Re-Do-Mi A Gottschalk Cello Sonata, ‘In memoriam’ a March Three Pieces Sherrill Divertimento for Strings
Ovidiu Marinescu vc with b Kim Troler fl cd Sylvia Davis Ahramjian, ad Dana Weiderhold vns d Scott Wagner va d Charles J Muench db a Janet Ahlquist pf Navona F NV5901 (69’ • DDD)

Marinescu curates and plays momentum-themed cello disc. Not everything on cellist Ovidiu Marinescu’s new disc flashes by as the first part of the title suggests. The subtitle reveals that the programme also includes moments of rumination and brooding personality, qualities that suit the dark, sagacious timbre of the cello, amid episodes of rustic charm and extrovert vitality. It’s a highly eclectic mix of repertoire.

Marinescu makes his bold and expressive way through works by six composers who generally write in styles with tonal roots, with a few excursions into piquant harmonic territory. The cello isn’t always placed centre stage. In three of the eight pieces, Marinescu teams with colleagues in chamber-music conversations of winsome and impassioned appeal.

Three works by Alan Beeler reveal the composer’s ability to devise miniatures that are as engaging as they are concise, especially his Dance Suite for violin and cello. Andrew March’s Three Pieces for solo cello, whose ‘Moto perpetuo’ movement gives the disc its title, portrays the instrument as a moody and nimble philosopher.

The influence of folk music can be heard in three warm-hearted scores: Greg Bartholomew’s Beneath the Apple Tree (for flute and cello), Bill Sherrill’s Divertimento for Strings and Nicholas Anthony Ascioti’s Adirondack Meditation (for violin, cello and piano).

Marinescu has an opportunity to go temperamentally wild in Arthur Gottschalk’s Cello Sonata, subtitled In memoriam. The three movements pay tribute to individuals – named in the digital liner notes – who are at once rapturous, argumentative and prickly. Hints of jazz pervade the final movement, which finds the piano stuck in a harmonic groove as the cello takes violent flight throughout its range.

– Donald Rosenberg

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