Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
9:30 AM 28th January 2022

Classical Music Review: Pohádka: Tales From Prague To Budapest Laura Van Der Heijden Cello Jâms Coleman Piano

Pohádka: Tales from Prague to Budapest
3 Stars

Laura Van der Heijden Cello Jâms Coleman Piano
Janáček Pohádka; Sonata JW VII/7; Kodály Sonata No 4; Mért is mondod, hogy nem szeretsz Op. post No 1; Vékony a pókháló; Sonatina; Dvořák Als die alter Mutter; Milhály Mouvement; Kaprálová Navždy Op 12 No 1.
Chandos: CHAN 20227
Released 18th February 2022

This is Laura van der Heijden’s debut disc with Chandos and she has put together a programme exploring the rich musical heritage of Bohemia. In doing so she has teamed up with Jâms Coleman because when she first met him in 2017, she was mesmerised by the sensitivity of his musicianship and the colours he managed to create on the piano. This disc captures both players musicianship and understanding of this Central and Eastern European music.

They begin their recital with Janáček’s Pohádka a work they both felt incredibly drawn to through the composer’s musical language, feeling enamoured because the loose translation of the title means ‘a fairy-tale’ with the focus of the piece on storytelling. They felt it was a piece to let their creativity and imagination flow. The warmth that Van der Heijden and Coleman bring to this work is conveyed through their considered understanding of the score. The three movement piece ends with a good-humoured Allegro which is effectively a rondo.

Kodály's 1909 Sonatina illustrates how van der Heijden’s attention to detail shapes the cello’s deep expressive tone. At times when the cello enters it does so dramatically realising the excitement of the moment. The subdued close of the movement leads straight into a substantial and exuberant Allegro con spirito characterised by vigorously propulsive dance rhythms and brilliant figuration in the piano. The chemistry between the cello/piano partnership makes this work come to life.

The lyricism of the short works by Dvorak and Kodály’s Mért is mondod, hogy nem szeretsz (Why are you saying that you do not love me?) are expressed well with the delicate playing simple and effective.

The big-boned work that is Milhály’s Mouvement makes fearsome virtuoso demands on both cellist and pianist which both deliver with aplomb. Jan Smaczny in the booklet writes that it starts as an expressive slow introduction leading to an intense Allegro appassionato characterised by driving rhythms and moments of repose. While the more dissonant side of Bartók is clearly an influence, Mihály’s music has an individuality that rewards careful listening

Van der Heijden's transcription of Janáček's Violin Sonata in A Flat minor, his third attempt at composing a work of this kind, is delivered with energy highlighting her empathy for his music. Here the duo’s personality and warmth alluringly take the listener on a journey capturing the broad range of emotions from contemplation to furious energy. The also successfully meet the rhythmic demands with their invigorating playing.

The musicians have achieved what they set out to do in creating a constant ebb and flow of shades of light and dark across more than eight decades. The full gamut of emotions is superbly portrayed with passion, and as some of the moves from the fast dramatic spacious deep toned playing subside into silkily tender poignant moments, one feels that the storytelling at the beginning has continued throughout the programme.

As a debut album congratulations to Chandos for signing Laura Van der Heijden and Jâms Coleman a winning collaboration.