is a great pity that a combination of soloist and orchestra
that are far from well known, together with a playing time that
is far from generous, is likely greatly to reduce the number
of people attracted by this disc.
are many recordings of the two concertos, including several
on bargain labels, with better known performers and including
additional music. It is perhaps better to regard this as a kind
of calling card for the performers, who I very much look forward
to hearing again.
soloist, Zuill Bailey, has already made a number of recordings,
including Beethoven Cello Sonatas and the Korngold Concerto,
but appears from the notes to spend much of his time playing
chamber music, mainly in the United States. The main characteristic
of his performances on this disc is indeed that of restraint,
and the ability – and, unusually, the desire – to play quietly
when called for, and to emphasize the elegance of the music.
Fortunately these are very much the main needs for good performances
of these works. I don’t want to suggest any absence of virtuosity
when called for, but Zuill Bailey does seem concerned above
all with the presentation of the music in the best light rather
than with exhibiting his undoubted technical abilities or the
quality of his tone. As a result music which can seem somewhat
relentless in the hands of “starrier” performers shows itself
to be both graceful and varied.
have to admit to having to look at a map to find out where Roanoke
is - just east of the Appalachians in Virginia - and to being
pleasantly surprised at what an accomplished orchestra they
have. Admittedly there is not a lot for them to do in these
pieces, but they are clearly well rehearsed and conducted, They
work well with the soloist, resulting in very enjoyable and
musical performances of both the main works.
the label and CD announce prominently that these are live performances,
the only sign of that is applause and whistling at the end of
the two concertos. The recording is clear, if a little dry,
and with the soloist somewhat too far forward. Earlier recordings
have certainly been worse in this respect, but it is wholly
unnecessary and does obscure the composer’s skill in scoring
them so that the soloist would be heard adequately in normal
concert hall performance.
two “encores” (if they were – there is no applause after them)
go reasonably well. The Massenet has suffered worse indignities
than transcription for cello, and “The Swan” is accompanied
by a harp. Both are satisfactory, but neither really adds much
to the attractions of the disc, and it is very disappointing
that a more substantial work could not have been added, both
for the listener’s enjoyment and to encourage more people to
buy such an enjoyable disc.