Superb debut album from young cellist


Kian Soltani (cello), Aaron Pilsan (piano)

Kian Soltani was born, to Iranian parents in Austria in June 1992 and began playing the cello at the age of four. Kian is a former first prize winner at the Antonio Janigro, Karl Davidoff and Paulo International Cello Competitions. Soltani’s status was confirmed in February 2017 when he won Germany’s prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award, and underlined five months later when he signed an exclusive contract to record for Deutsche Grammophon. Rave reviews and invitations to perform at the world’s leading concert halls have propelled the 25-year-old musician from rising star to one of the most exciting musicians of his generation.

On his debut Deutsche Grammophon album, cellist Kian Soltani traces his musical roots in works by Schubert, Schumann and Iranian composer Reza Vali; hence the album title ‘Home’. On this CD Kian is accompanied by the pianist Aaron Pilsan with whom he has been performing for around four years now.

The album starts with works by Schubert and Schumann, composers he grew up with and whose music he feels at home with. Schubert’s  Sonata in A minor ‘Arpeggione’, D821 begins proceedings. The opening Allegro moderato is built around a wistful melody whose fame is such that many who have never heard or heard of the ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata will find that they recognise the tune. A second theme proceeds in gentle gusts of sixteenth notes; the arpeggione¹ could not play fast notes with much volume at all, and so the Sonata’s quicker portions are almost always marked piano or pianissimo. The Adagio is a rich but introverted musing on an almost hymn-like subject followed by a final, multi-sectioned Allegretto. Soltani makes light of the demands made on the cellist by this piece and he gives us a hugely enjoyable performance.

The other romantic pieces are equally well played and include Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 and Adagio and Allegro in A flat major, Op. 70‘ the first work that Soltani and Pilsan performed together professionally. Soltani exhibits his versatility by concluding the CD with with a set of Persian Folk Songs by the contemporary Iranian composer Reza Vali.

On the showing of these captivating and individual performances, Kian Soltani is a young cellist on his way to a stellar career and we have no hesitation in awarding this debut CD a 5 star rating.

iClassical rating: 

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¹ The guitarre d’amour, or arpeggione as it came to be known, was invented sometime during 1823 or 1824 by the respected Viennese guitar maker Johann Georg Stauffer. The instrument – a kind of enlarged guitar that could be bowed, cello-style, due to an altered fingerboard – was by no means a success; within just a few years of its birth it had for all intents and purposes suffered extinction.