Bosmans; Bridge Works for Cello and Piano

An imaginative pairing: two composers with a surprising amount in common

Author: 
Andrew Achenbach

Bosmans; Bridge Works for Cello and Piano

  • Sonata for Cello and Piano
  • Elegy
  • Serenade
  • Meditation
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano
  • Nuit calme

A new name to me (and, I suspect, to most readers), Henriëtte Bosmans (1895-1952) was born in Amsterdam. Her father, Henri, served as principal cello with the Concertgebouw Orchestra but died when she was only six months old. She initially studied the piano with her mother, Sarah Benedicts, and, like her, went on to enjoy a successful career on the concert platform. In addition Bosmans took composition lessons with Cornelis Dopper and (rather later) Willem Pijper, after which her musical language became more radical. Both the Cello Sonata (1919) and Nuit calme (1926) pre-date her studies under Pijper and are passionately delivered here by this Dutch duo. Elegantly crafted and cyclical in construction, the big-hearted and generously songful Sonata in particular strikes me as something of a find; adventurous collectors with a fondness for, say, Chausson, Debussy, Fauré or Magnard should certainly lend an ear.

The couplings are shrewdly chosen, since Bosmans’s music also exhibits stylistic points of contact with the pre-war output of Frank Bridge. (There’s a further link: Bridge was both teacher and mentor to Britten, who in turn became a good friend of Bosmans.) Again, Rademakers and Verschoor perform with unstinting dedication, and if, predictably, their urgently expressive reading of the ravishing Sonata (which, like Bosmans’s, employs an arch-shaped structure) by no means eclipses memories of the indelible Rostropovich/Britten account for Decca (at present only available as a download), they can hold their heads pretty high even against such formidable silver-disc competitors as Birkeland and Anvik (Simax, A/01) and brothers Paul and Huw Watkins (a fabulously rapt meeting of minds on Nimbus).

Up-front, occasionally raw sound, the balance a little too close for comfort but well worth hunting down all the same.

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