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The Kanneh-Mason's Keep it in the Family

By Marc Zisman |

Isata, the pianist sister, and Sheku, the cellist brother, finally record together for their first duo project entitled "Muse", based on pieces by Rachmaninoff and Barber...

Despite Covid-19, the Kanneh-Mason siblings probably didn't have too much trouble finding the right playing partners. The whole family is brimming with young talent, all seven children are professional classical instrumentalists, so one imagines that the house must have resounded with music during the months of confinement.

Fortunately for us, this intense activity was recorded - at least as far as Isata (piano) and her brother Sheku (cello). The brother and sister have already been praised several times for their solo projects, and now they release their first duo, Muse, on Decca.

Isata and Sheku have already performed the cello sonatas of Rachmaninoff and Samuel Barber together in concerts around the world. When their tour had to stop in 2020 due to the pandemic, the duo decided to simply transfer this unique music to a recording studio. With Barber's Cello Sonata Opus 6 from the 1930s, as well as some arrangements of his songs, the two performers give us a wonderful glimpse into a repertoire that has not yet been exposed. One can easily guess the pleasure they had in discovering and getting to know Barber's work in all its details. However, the highlight of the disc is probably the part devoted to Rachmaninoff. The wonderful "Muse", from his 14 Romances, op. 34, which incidentally gave the album its title, reflects a perfect symbiosis between cello and piano.

Without relegating any of the instruments to the background, the performers rather get the best out of each other. This becomes even clearer in the Cello Sonata, Op. 19, which the composer himself describes as an equal work between piano and cello. Although Rachmaninoff did not venture into chamber music too often, Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason manage to elevate it to one of his supreme disciplines. A more than successful family project.

LISTEN TO "MUSE" BY SHEKU & ISATA KANNEH-MASON ON QOBUZ

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