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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

Eduard LALO (1823-1892)
Cello Concerto in D Minor; Cello Sonata; Chants russes
Maria Kliegel (cello), Bernd Glemser (piano)
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia/Michael Halász.
Recorded at Phoenix Studio, Budapest, (Concerto) and Tonstudio Terje van Geest, Sandhausen, Germany, (1998).
NAXOS 8.554469 [59.31]

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It should not take long to find a more acceptable recording of the Concerto, which is a well-represented a favourite in the cello's concert repertoire. This performance falls short in important respects, including a foggy recorded sound, brash orchestral playing and wayward interpretation. The impressive first movement (the second subject played Allegro pomposo rather than Allegro maestoso as Lalo directs) reveals a serious imbalance between soloist and orchestra, the cello at times being almost vanquished by the driving attack of the Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia's strings. Things do not get much better in the Intermezzo's opening Andante in which Halász ignores the composer's cautionary con moto leading to the swaying syncopations in the Allegro. These ought to be sunny and relaxing, but here sound decidedly nervous; and so it goes on, with explosive sforzandi from the orchestra and an all round feeling of insecurity.

Lalo is best remembered for a few of his larger works, such as this Concerto and the Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra, but also composed a considerable quantity of chamber music, such as the richly romantic Sonata for cello and piano and arrangements of Russian songs, both for the same combination. The rare emergence of these works on this disc might provide a good reason for buying it, but unfortunately the change of recording venue did not cure all the defects of the Concerto. Despite Glemser's creditable playing the piano occasionally sounds decidedly "off stage" and, though Kliegel approaches both works with confidence and conviction, the final result is not a happy one.

Roy Brewer

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