Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata Schumann: Fünf Stucke im Volkston op.102; Adagio and Allegro op.70; Fantasiestücke op.73

Bion Tsang (cello)

Richard Bishop (piano)

By Harris Goldsmith November 1996

The young US cellist, Bion Tsang, already has many honours to his credit, among them an Avery Fisher Career Grant and a performance with the New York Philharmonic. His consummate playing here provides splendid justification for all that attention.

Tsang is a patrician of style: he produces a smooth, compact sound from his instrument and shows fine command of line and suppleness of bow control. His left-hand work (even in the potentially treacherous Schubert) is elegant and accurate and his emotional approach, while proportioned and disciplined rather that extravagant or heated, is nevertheless free and outgoing enough when necessary.

There is, moreover, a fine rapport between Tsang and his responsive partner, Richard Bishop. Their personalised readings of the Schumann Fünf Stucke im Volkston certainly make the most of the humour, tenderness and irascibility inherent in the quirky writing, and the Allegro from op.70, originally conceived for french horn, has a clarion assertiveness that strikingly resembles the original instrument. If I have any quibble, it would be in the second of the op.73 set, where the pianist, attentive to the fact that Schumann has oddly connected his duplet melodic notes to the first and third of the accompanimental triplets, consequently gives a lurching Irish jig quality to his phrases that contradicts Tsang's treatment of the identical material. This is surely a case of mistaken literalism.

Also in this issue of The Strad magazine: Harris Goldsmith’s review of Mr. Tsang’s August 1996 Bargemusic recital