Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-92) Le Grand Tango.
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) La vida breve Danse espagnole No. 1 (arr. Kreisler/Marechal). El amor brujo Pantomima e Cancion (arr. C Schiff); Danse rituelle du feu (arr. Piatigorsky).
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) Danzas españolas No. 5 Andaluza. Tonadilla No. 1 (arr. Fournier). Goyescas Intermezzo (arr. Cassadó).
Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909) Celebre Serenata Espagnola (arr. Cassadó). Malagueña. Tango, Op. 165 No. 2 (arr. Marechal).
Gaspar CASSADÓ (1897-1966) Sérénade. Danse du Diable vert. La Pendule, la fileuse et le galant. Lamento de Boabdil. Requiebros.
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Habanera (arr. Bazelaire). Alborada del grazioso (arr. Castelnuovo-Tedesco).
Alban Gerhardt (cello); Rina Dokshinsky (piano).
Recorded in Holy Trinity Church, Weston, Hertfordshire in February 1998. [DDD]
EMI Debut CDZ5 73164-2 [72'41]

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New York based cellist Alban Gerhardt has already appeared with many leading orchestras and conductors. By his own admission, he cannot explain his affection for music of a Mediterranean bent: he is German with Czech heritage. That he shows a clear affinity for this music is beyond doubt, however. What makes him different from the usual Wunderkind is not his phenomenal technique, but rather the fact that he uses this technique musically at all times. He makes the listener forget the difficulties of his programme and thus facilitates concentration on the music itself.

Gerhardt has a warm, glowing sound eminently suitable to his chosen repertoire. He brings off Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango by being expressive without overdoing it. The ability to capture the spirit of melancholic longing which pervades the disc is his great strength. He is suave and swaying in the first Amor brujo excerpt while in the Piatigorsky arrangement of Falla's famous Ritual Fire Dance his excellent pianist really comes in to her own. It is significant that this piece is programmed towards the middle of the recital, pointing to the duo's refusal to treat this piece as mere encore material. Dokshinsky (herself something of a Wunderkind) makes the opening positively buzz.

Granados gives an opportunity for Gerhardt to show that he is capable of delicacy, too: Andaluza is eloquent testament to this, as is Tonadilla No. 1, in which Dokshinsky's perfectly shaped staccato accompaniments provide the ideal foil for Gerhardt's lyricism. The duo manage to elevate some of the most famous encores by lavishing them with tremendous attention to detail. Rhythmic pointing and placing is exemplary throughout. Just listen to Gaspar Cassadó's Danse du Diable vert for an example of infectious rhythms, or to Albéniz's Celebre Serenata Espagnola for sheer playfulness.

This is an intelligently planned recital which is triumphantly delivered by this duo. Gerhardt is a real find.


Colin Clarke


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