Bach's Cello Suites are "blueprints for cellists of all generations," writes Yehuda Hanani in his introduction to this recording. There are more than 20 editions of them, "all claiming the mantle of truth," but the problems posed by four divergent manuscripts, none by Bach himself, all riddled with inaccuracies, as well as the absence of original bowings, dynamics, and tempo indications, give performers both the liberty and the responsibility "to make their own edition with each performance."
Of the literally innumerable recordings of the Suites, Hanani's is one of the most interesting and exciting. His copious program notes reflect his approach, combining a rigorous structural and harmonic analysis with poetic allusions to literature, mythology, philosophy, art, nature, and life. His playing communicates both a scholarly and a passionately personal relationship with the music. He emphasizes contrast of character , mood, texture, dynamics, and articulation and regards repeats as an "opportunity to illuminate the music from different angles" with ornaments and unusual effects like pizzicato chords. He plays with great sweep, freedom, and inwardness, fearlessly taking technical and emotional risks. The fast movements can get rugged, even rough, from sheer spontaneous vigor and exuberance; the Preludes are true improvisations, the slow movements deeply expressive.
"The wonders of Bach are inexhaustible," Hanani writes. With his imagination, thoughtfulness, emotional integrity, and scrupulous execution, he has revealed them in a fresh light. - Edith Eisler in Strings June 1998
"Throughout the disc the playing by Hanani and Levin is of the highest quality. Hanani's intonation is well centered and the partnership is ideally balanced, while the recording -- presumably made in America -- is quite outstanding." - David Denton in The Strad
"Breadth, vitality, richness and beautifully centered quality of tone production, uniform across all four strings. There is absolute security of intonation as he moves this gorgeous sound with effortless portamento, carrying the most sensitively sculptured phrases. Nowhere does he permit his phrasing and line to become mechanical. An intensely human heart beats behind every pulse of this music." - Buffalo Evening News
"In this era of the cello, Hanani is among the best. His Bach was absorbing, imaginative, beautiful in all respects." - San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
"Spectacular pyrotechnics." - Los Angeles Times
"One of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation, and a consistently expressive artist." - The New York Times
"Hanani is a virtuoso with an astoundingly resonant tone to match...phenomenal bowing technique..." - Washington Post
"Splendid, impassioned playing." - London Daily Telegraph
"He is such a master of his instrument in every way that this critic can only express wonderment at such talent." - Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin)
"Cellist Yehuda Hanani and pianist Michael Levin bring all the warmth and poetry one can yearn for to Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata and to other works for cello and piano by Schumann and Schubert. Hanani is a very personal cellist, who in tandem with Levin's tender and robust piano playing brings beauty and charm to these pieces." - The Jerusalem Post
"Time was when a new classical CD by a South Florida artist or ensemble was a novelty. Today, they come in batches. This month, the count is five new albums - two spotlighting veteran South Florida pianist Michele Levin, who collaborates on different labels with a pair of distinguished colleagues: cellist Yehuda Hanani and Florida Philharmonic principal bassoonist Luciano Magnanini. There are also CDs by the Miami Choral Society; composer Fredrick Kaufman, dean of Florida Interriational University's School of Music; and a "Fats" Waller tribute of piano transcriptions from the University of Miami's Paul Posnak.
Levin, who has lived in South Florida for decades and frequently performs solo recitals and chamber music here, entered Philadelphia's Curtis Institute at 11. There, she studied piano, of course, and she became the only woman to earn a master's degree in.*composition from the famed S&01.
When Igor Stravinsky con- ducted excerpts from Petrouchka here in 1967, it was Levin who played the formidable piano solo. Since those far-off days, she has developed a notable career collaborating with musicians like violinists Ruggiero Ricci and Joseph Silverstein. Recently, her husband, a physician, joined the staff of a major New York hospital, and Levin will soon move to the Big Apple - where she hopes to rev up her career. A loss for South Florida. But the CDs should satisfy admirers of her probing musicianship.
With Hanani, the Israeli-American cellist whose Close Encounters With Music series opens next weekend at Hollywood's Art and Culture Center and Coral Gables' Biltmore Hotel, Levin plays Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in the big style, with great reflection and breadth. In Hanani's transcription for cello of Schubert's Sonatina No. I for violin and piano, her widely spaced phrasing and the cellist's luxuriant, full-throated tone are a balm to the ear. The pair also project the ardor and lyricism of Schumann's Fantasy Pieces and dig deep beneath the notes of his five seldom-heard Stuecke im Volston.
Magnanini, whose fluent, thoughtful bassoon solos are among the major pleasures of Florida Philharmonic concerts, makes a worthy contribution, too, with a set of neoclassical pieces that benefit from the :rounded warmth of his tone and Levin's incisive inflections. Each piece, though not a major work by its composer, offers pleasant listening. But don't hear them in succession. In mood and style they're too blandly similar. The gracious Dutileux Sarabande and Cortege is extremely attractive and masterfully crafted, as is Castelnuo- vo-Tedesco's Sonatina, though it hints at the genetic film music he churned out for Hollywood. Longo, an Italian scholar-composer who cataloged Scarlatti keyboard sonatas, was, according to this bassoon suite, also an academic classicist when composing. - The Miami Herald
Yehuda Hanani's charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements throughout Europe, North and South America, the Orient and his native Israel. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Hong Kong Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and Seoul Symphony among others. He has collaborated with prominent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, Itzhak Perlman and members of the Emerson, Vermeer, Muir, Julliard, Lark, Colorado, and Cleveland Quartets and the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. This distinguished artist made the first recording ever of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata, receiving a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and his other discs have won wide recognition.
Yehuda Hanani is Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and presents master classes internationally in conjunction with concert tours. As Artistic Director of the Close Encounters With Music chamber music series in the Berkshires and in South Florida, her presents an innovative approach to programming that explores the common roots of all the arts. Soloist, chamber musician, master teacher and ambassador of the arts, Mr. Hanani inspires audiences the world over. His studies were with Leonard Rose at the Julliard School and with Pablo Casals.
Dazzle and Nostalgia
Eroica: JDT 3072
Yehuda Hanani, cello
Michele Levin, piano
1. Song Without Words, Op. 109 - Mendelssohn
2. Serenade - Schubert
3. Rondo - Weber
4-9. Suite Populaire Espagnole - de Falla
10. Vocalise - Rachmaninoff
11. Nocturne, Op. 19, No. 4 - Tchaikovsky
12. Valse Sentimentale, Op. 51, No. 6 - Tchaikovsky
13. Sicilienne, Op. 78 - Fauré
14. The Swan - Saint-Saëns
15-19. Variations on a Theme from Rossini's Moses - Paganini
( Variation 1 )
20. Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2 - Chopin
21. Liebesleid - Kreisler
22. Schön Rosmarin - Kreisler
23. Czardas - Monti
Eroica: JDT 3036
Yehuda Hanani, cello
Michele Levin, piano
1. Franz Schubert, Sonata in A Minor, D. 821 "Arpeggione"
2. Franz Schubert, Sonatina in D Major, Op. 137, No. 1, D. 384
3. Robert Schumann, Stücke im Volkston, in A Minor Op. 102
4. Robert Schumann, Fantasie Stücke
J.S. Bach -- Six Suites for Cello Solo
Eroica: JDT 3037
Yehuda Hanani, cello
Suite No. 1 in G major
Suite No. 4 in E flat major
Suite No. 5 in C minor
Suite No. 3 in C major
Suite No. 2 in D minor
Suite No. 6 in D major
Vivaldi -- Six Sonatas for Cello, Harpsichord, and Continuo
Eroica: JDT 3035
Yehuda Hanani, cello
Lionel Party, Harpsichord
Miho Zaitsu, Continuo
1. Sonata No. 1 in B flat major
2. Sonata No. 2 in F major
3. Sonata No. 3 in A minor
4. Sonata No. 4 in B flat minor
5. Sonata No. 5 in E minor
6. Sonata No. 6 in B flat major