'These are meaty, powerful and assured performances, technically impressive, and disclosing once again the expected first class ensemble values cultivated by the Watkins duo. They are keen to stress the vertiginous aspects of the writing, mining every opportunity to characterise richly. There is intense energy and vitality here, and auditors will be rightly impressed by the biting sense of purpose generated. That said, there are certainly other ways of doing things.' MusicWeb International
Aside from his impressive array of chamber music, Bohuslav Martinu also left behind three outstanding cello sonatas as well as a collection of smaller works for cello and piano. With an entirely unrobotic show of flair and familiarity, the Watkins brothers play with true enthusiasm, conveying genuine passion for Martinu's music and personal artistic development. The accuracy and fluidity with which they play, supplemented by the clean quality and warmth of Chandos' sound renders this entire album enthralling.
The recording cleverly separates the sonatas by way of the composer's two sets of variation for cello and piano, being as they are two very different instruments. For example, The Variations on a Slovak Theme, being of the same time as the Third Sonata, receives the dedication in performance that it deserves. The piano begins with a flourish, complemented with the deep bow strokes which truly bring the cello to the fore. Both players move flawlessly through rich, heady depth and rough, gritty detail. In comparison, Rossini Variations is somewhat more energetic and requires to be played with a certain sense of humour which both brothers achieve effortlessly, evidently enjoying the exaggerated flourishes at the close.
Both instruments are placed reasonably close to the listener in the recording and in doing this, the recording on top of the skill and passion with which the Watkins brothers play, the intimacy and sense of profundity of this music are truly captured.
Composer: Bohuslav Martinu
Cello: Paul Watkins
Piano: Huw Watkins
Producer/s: Rachel Smith
Sound Engineer/s: Jonathon Cooper, Paul Quilter (assistant)