Review of Bion Tsang's latest CD

Fanfare Magazine Tenafly, NJ August 3, 2010

Classical Reviews

It’s been a while since I’ve kvetched about having to review too many new releases of Brahms’s cello sonatas. I love them dearly, but enough was enough. Now, after a welcome respite, here comes Michigan-born cellist Bion Tsang to “make the pie higher,” to borrow a phrase from an ex-POTUS’s primer of quotable quotes.

I had kind words for Tsang’s Beethoven sonatas in Fanfare 30:1, commenting on his solid technique, full-throated vibrant tone, and poised performances that spoke to long, careful, and loving preparation. But nothing in his Beethoven could have prepared me for his Brahms.

My all-around favorite recording of the Brahms sonatas, and the one by which I’ve measured all comers, has been the one with Nancy Green and Frederick Moyer on the JRI label. That must now change thanks to Tsang, darn him anyway.

There are two more contributors to the glory of these performances that must be acknowledged, and they are the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall and the uncredited recording team. I don’t think I’ve ever heard—no, I know I haven’t—a cello and piano duo sound this way on record. Both instruments soared from my speakers with such headroom and bloom that I could literally feel the ambient acoustic of the hall surrounding me, and this is not even a multichannel surround-sound CD. Truly amazing.

Much as it grieves me to say it, Nancy and Frederick, move over; Bion and Anton are now my top recommendation for the Brahms cello sonatas.

By Jerry Dubins

Read the full review... Also available in hard print in Issue 33:6 (July/August 2010)