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BBC Music Magazine

February 20, 2024

Rebecca Franks

Works by Bosmans, Pejacevic, L Boulanger, N Boulanger Janne Fredens (cello), Søren Rastogi (piano)
OUR Recordings 6.220683 60:53 mins
And so the musical discoveries keep on coming. The ominous, weighty piano chords and emphatic cello line beginning Upheaval immediately proclaim that Janne Fredens and Søren Rastogi mean business. If the up-close intensity of the sound is confronting at first, it soon proves well suited to this chamber duo repertoire, taking us into the heart of two little-known cello sonatas.
The major discovery here is Henriette Bosmans's Cello Sonata in A minor, a darkly hued, deeply expressive work completed by the Dutch composer in 1919. There are several other recordings out there, but Fredens's passionate commitment to the music and her autumnal tone feel like an ideal match for the sonata's late-Romantic style. A restless spirit blows through the second movement Allegretto, while the Adagio shows off the cello's vocal, lyrical qualities. Fredens and Rastogi tap right into the emotional core of each movement, though perhaps at times the piano could be more forward in the sound. The finale takes us to a fiery, near apocalyptic end, recalling the striding opening. It's a bold, appealing work.
Six years earlier, in Croatia, Dora Pejacevic finished her Cello Sonata in E minor, and with its similar roots in the Germanic chamber tradition it makes a strong partner to the Bosmans. Her writing has a fluidity and lyricism to it, and its scale is more intimate than the extrovert Bosmans sonata. The performance is equally thoughtful.
To end, we have two works by the Boulanger sisters. Lili’s Nocturne and Nadia's Trois pieces are too well known to be described as discoveries but, lively and engaging, they round out this fascinating portrait of early 20th-century European chamber music. Rebecca Franks
Performance: 4 stars Recording: 4 stars

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