If I have a gripe
about this disc it would be about the title. The programme is
attractive and interesting but only the word “cello” seems apposite
for all of it. Without doubt, Maria Kliegel is a very fine virtuoso
cellist but I can’t believe she was taxed greatly by most of
the works performed here. Quite a few of them are potential
encores but extended works such as Popper’s Fantasy on Little
Russian Songs, and Offenbach’s Danse bohémienne would
surely warrant an appearance in a programme proper. The listing
above may sum up the cellist’s lot – eleven of the sixteen pieces
are transcriptions and the other five were written by cellists.
of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise seems to me to exemplify Kliegel’s
approach to these works – clean, lean and musical, sparing on
rubato and hinting at emotional depths. These are not the sort
of performances that a Rostropovich would give us but easier
to live with and a more realistic example for aspiring young
cellists. I have not come across Raimund Havenith before but
his support is excellent and teams well with Kliegel.
Most of the shorter
works hardly require any introduction but a few deserve specific
mention. Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassado’s Dance of the Green
Devil is an ideal and spirited opener in ternary form with
a magical central slow section framed by a playful dance for
a rather endearing type of devil. I presume that The Bee
by the “other” Franz Schubert (born in Dresden and no relation
to the Schubert) was written before Rimsky-Korsakov’s
Flight of the Bumble Bee – it seems to be a prototype
for it. Finally, and most striking of all is Barchet’s Boulevard
de Garavan, one of his Images de Menton from 1963.
This is a kind of study in pizzicato where the name of the game
is to imitate the guitar.
Lovers of the cello
will enjoy this disc and it is also for amateur cellists learning
the repertoire and wanting to hear some very professional performances.
The recordings were made 15 years ago and sound very well –
presumably this is not their first outing but a reissue. At
bargain price this disc can be snapped up with confidence.
see also Review
by Göran Forsling