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Concert Gems for Violoncello
Vittorio MONTI (1868-1922)
Czárdás [5:04]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)
Twelve Spanish Dances Op.37 (1892-1900) (transcribed by Roger C. Vogel)
Andaluza ¹ [4:28]; Oriental [5:18]; Zambra [5:45]
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
Pieces de Concert (transcribed by Luis Millán) ¹
Prelude - Siciliéne - La Tromba - Air de Diable [8:17]
Arvo PÄRT (b.1935)
Spiegel im Spiegel (1978)  [7:23]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Sonata in D for violin and keyboard Op.1 No.13 HWV 371 (transcribed by Ashley Sandor Sidon) [12:57]
Frédéric BURGMÜLLER (1806-1874)
Nocturne No.1 (from Three Nocturnes) [3:23] ¹
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
From Jewish Life – Suite (1925)
Prayer [3:53]; Supplication [2:09]; Jewish Song [2:12]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Café 1930 (c.1967) (transcribed by Luis Millán) [7:05] ¹
Ashley Sandor Sidon (cello)
Nicholas Roth (piano)
Luis Millán (guitar) ¹
rec. Sheslow Auditorium, Drake University, Des Moines, June and August 2007
MSR CLASSICS MS1247 [67:58]


Experience Classicsonline

Many players or record companies would have opened with the Couperin or Handel and held the Monti back for an explosive encore. But not MSR, who have decided with commendable good sense that this isn’t necessary – you can programme things differently – and neither is it desirable musically. Too many recitals still get hung up on chronology.

Ashley Sandor Sidon plays the Czárdás with a certain hauteur and reserve; her tone can sound a touch nasal which means that whilst the thing’s not camped up – something I dislike except when Nigel Kennedy does it because the boy has chutzpah – it can seem rather too reserved. Musical, but straight. Andaluza, from the Spanish Dances, is accompanied on guitar by Luis Millán, who has arranged several things in this recital. The other movements are accompanied on piano. The B section does sound a touch dogged in this performance and colours could be varied more consistently – but at least things are kept on a lead and not allowed to go for a metrical walk as more indulgent performers would.

I wasn’t taken by the Couperin which is phrased with a rather unappealing short-breathed articulation that fails to convince. This is beginning to sound as if Sidon doesn’t project naturally or warmly and I think there’s something in that – stiff phrasing is a weakness. This recurs in the opening of the Handel, a standby through the ages. Maybe Sidon is trying to avoid the kind of glutinously phrased performances that one does sometimes hear from leading players. But her solutions tend toward the clipped, detached and cool. Nicholas Roth covers her in the slow movement once or twice, some of the ornaments are overdone in the first movement and the finale could end more dramatically.

Bergmuller was one of the many followers of Chopin and with the guitar accompanying a nice case is made for his Nocturne. Next to, say, Parry Karp Sidon’s Bloch does once again sound too withheld – sympathetic, yes, but not necessarily projecting fully. It must be me – but why do people persist with Piazzolla? Café 1930 has a nice middle section but is otherwise nondescript.

Sidon is clearly a sensitive, accomplished player but a greater sense of involvement and colour is needed to bring this wide-ranging collection more fully to life.

Jonathan Woolf



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