Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Cello Concerto in E minor, op.85 (1919) [28:25] In Moonlight (arr. Julian Milone) [3:16] La Capricieuse, op.17 (arr. Julian Milone) [4:46] Romance, op.62 (arr. Julian Milone) [5:47] Salut díAmour (arr. Julian Milone) [2:58] Chanson de Matin, op.15/2 (arr. Julian Milone) [3:16] Sospiri, op.70 (arr. Julian Milone) [3:51]
Natalie Clein (cello)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
rec. 28-29 May 2007, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool. DDD EMI CLASSICS 5014092 [52:19]
of the Cello Concerto are hardly thin on the ground. And this
is a good performance. Natalie Clein is recorded in sniff-conscious
close up and her powerful, expressive tone is thus magnified;
she doesnít yet project like this in concert, as I can attest.
She has a penchant for slight metrical dalliance and for a surfeit
of tenutos but she plays with emotional commitment and technical
security sufficient to dispel concerns as to indulgence. Itís
a work with which she has been associated for a number of years
now. Handley ensures the falling wind figures are tight and on
the money; the brass is trenchant and whiplash; chording is excellent.
The orchestral fabric ensures we hear things that less experienced
practitioners fail to bring out; wind lines are especially evocative.
There is a fine hushed pianissimo in the slow movement, the heart
of the affair Ė where Clein is elastic in her phrasing. And the
finale sees once more those combative brass and tactile winds
to the fore. Rhythms are stamped out tightly but Clein occasionally
distends the melodic line too much Ė very communicative but less
So a fine performance of the concerto, if one
that tends to linger a little too much for my own tastes.
Clein and Handley then combine on a series
of well-known Elgar works arranged by Julian Milone for cello
and orchestra. This is really a strange collection of non-cellistic
morceaux. In Moonlight works well enough; itís not too dragged
out. La Capricieuse encroaches on the violin repertoire. It has
a rather salon profile that thereby robs it of incision and wit.
The central, contrastive espressivo episode doesnít really work
on the cello. The Romance was originally written for bassoon and
I donít object to this version. Salut díAmour gets trotted out Ė thereís
more than a hint of the Hotel Cecil Orchestra on Zonophone 78s;
but at least thereís not too much sugar about this arrangement
or the speed with which itís taken. And thereís more than a touch
of the George Melachrinos about Chanson de Matin. Still thatís
far preferable in my book to the bizarre register fumbling involved
in Sospiri, which is, to put it crudely, mutilated. †
I doubt youíll play these arrangements too
often so that leaves us with the Cello Concerto Ė a warm, highly
expressive, though very closely recorded performance. I like Frenchmen
in this concerto Ė they tend to get the emotional balance right Ė but
Iíve always liked Pini from a semi-historical perspective. There
are plenty of contemporary performances out there; I admire this
Clein performance but itís a tough ask to promote just the concerto.
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