David Finckel and Wu Han

TONY reviews Finckel and Wu Han's latest album, For David and Wu Han.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

You don’t realize the building power of David Finckel and Wu Han’s latest CD until you’re completely bowled over—which may be the most powerful thing about the album. For David and Wu Han is a luminous quartet of duos by four of today’s most compelling composers, written specifically for this husband-and-wife team (who also run the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center) and continuing the long and noble tradition of cello-piano duos as refined by Beethoven and perpetuated by Mstislav Rostropovich.

The album has a rare, pervasive intimacy, helped by the fact that the couple produced the album themselves for their hands-on label, ArtistLed, and performed works by composers with whom they have a deep affinity. Bruce Adolphe’s “Couple” is a particularly wistful, hazy standout. Its vivid imagery is a cozy fit for Finckel and Wu Han—the earthiness of his cello lines grounds the dreaminess of her piano rhapsodies.

Far from suggesting a John-and-Yoko--style bed-in, however, For David and Wu Han has an emotional range that is rife with contrast. The Russian impulses of Lera Auerbach’s Sonata for Violoncello and Piano, Op. 69, give way to domestic discord. The storm of a third movement—a microtonal showcase in which Finckel skirts an abysmal edge—cedes to a fourth that has whispers of harmony in the midst of the subliminal lament.

We may have heard the last of Finckel and Wu Han on their home turf until next season, but the infectious energy they brought to this disc remains in their programming for CMS.—Olivia Giovetti

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s season continues with concerts Thu 11 and “Finnish Voices” Tue 16 at Alice Tully Hall. Wu Han hosts a related symposium Mon 15.

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For David and Wu Han (ArtistLed)