would be forgiven for a double take when seeing this disc
for the first time; Bach and Brubeck on the same record
and everything arranged for twenty cellos alone! However,
it works wonderfully well and though at first sight it
may only hold an appeal for cello enthusiasts I’m sure
that like me others will find it a rewarding listen. I
always find transcriptions interesting though they rarely
convince me that they are an improvement on the original.
These transcriptions of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos.
3 and 6 are interesting as they point up the timeless nature
of Bach’s wonderfully rich and inventive writing. Jesus
Christ Je t’implore sounds perfectly at home being
played by no less than twenty cellos.
Brubeck, who studied with Darius Milhaud, has written many
classical works, including two ballets, an oratorio, four
cantatas and a mass. The works on this disc were all written
for other instruments apart from Cello, Celli written
for a Paris Cello ensemble. Brubeck stipulated that his
son Matthew, a former student of Aldo Parisot, should be
the improvising soloist. However, with the arts budget
in France having been cut at the time it was never performed
until another student of Parisot asked him if he’d ever
written for a cello ensemble. It was finally performed
by her and the Cleveland Cello Ensemble. All his pieces
are full of his gifts for composition and originality. “Regret”,
the final work on the disc, Brubeck described as “a sweet
sadness, longing for lost moments, might-have beens, and
a past that cannot be re-lived”. I cannot imagine he has
too much to regret as he has had an extremely rewarding
career in every way. The piece, in any case, has been taken
up by such disparate groups as The London Symphony Orchestra,
The Russian National Orchestra and The Chattanooga Choral
Society using only vowel sounds and the word Regret. Brubeck
was delighted when he heard the cello ensemble recorded
here performing this work. He described it as an “unforgettable
experience”. I trust he felt it was a counterbalance to
the feelings he expresses in the music.
again Naxos has gone where other record companies might
fear to tread and thus we can explore repertoire we might
otherwise never get to hear.
see also review by Tim Perry