Review by: David Vernier
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9
It’s easy to find recordings of cellos–single cellos, duo cellos, even whole orchestras full of nothing but cellos. You have little or no problem negotiating this vast gallery of choices if your aim is to find one of the major works performed by a world-class player or players. But what if you just want a program of beautiful cello music, a compilation of different yet compatible styles and composers, easy to listen to from beginning to end–no jarring misfits!–expertly played and well recorded? Well, here is a good place to start.
The four young cellists–outstanding students of Germany’s famed Kronberg Academy–perform “Italian or Italian-inspired cello music from three centuries” (actually four–18th-21st), featuring both solo and duo cellos with orchestra. Although none of these pieces (except for the Wolf Italian Serenade, which doesn’t qualify as a “cello” piece but is a pleasure to hear anyway) is anything like a “familiar” or “major” work, each is finely wrought, cello-centric, and very well rendered by soloists and orchestra.
There’s plenty of virtuoso stuff, highlighted by an arrangement of Paganini’s Variations on One String on a Theme by Rossini (performed by Edgar Moreau), but you’ll also be particularly pleased by Respighi’s Adagio con variazioni and Menotti’s delightful Suite for two cellos and orchestra (from 1973). There’s also a reliably entertaining Vivaldi concerto for two cellos, an arrangement of Rossini’s “Une larme” for cello and string orchestra, and two more recent works–Roberto Molinelli’s Twin Legends for cello and string orchestra, and Peteris Plakidis’ Pasticcio à la Rossini.
You may not have heard of most of this music, nor of the cellists–the most famous of them, Heinrich Schiff, serves as conductor–yet everything comes together here to make a very pleasurable and eminently repeatable listening experience. Very well done.
Buy Now from Arkiv Music
Recording Details:Album Title: Focus Cello
Works and arrangements for cello & orchestra by Vivaldi, Rossini, Paganini, Respighi, Wolf, Molinelli, Plakidis, & Menotti