Claude DEBUSSY La fille aux cheveux de lin (Prélude 8) [2:43]
Antonin DVOŘÁK Song to the moon (Rusalka) [5:39]
Edvard GRIEG Solveig’s Song (Peer Gynt) [3:46]
Vincenzo BELLINI Ah non credea mirarti (la Sonnambula) [4:11]
Gaetano DONIZETTI Una furtiva lagrima (L'Elisir d'Amore) [3:58]
Giacomo PUCCINI O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi) [3:41]
Erik SATIE Gymnopédie No. 1 [2:57]; Gnossienne No. 1 [3:55]
Gabriel FAURÉ Pavane op 50 [5:21]; Après un rêve [3:01]
Frederic CHOPIN Mazurka op.67 no.4 [3:19]; Nocturne op.9 no.2 [4:20]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF: Vocalise op.34 no.14 [5:27]
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY Valse Sentimentale [2:24]
Ophélie Gaillard (cello)
Royal Philarmonic Orchestra/Tim Redmond
rec. no date given, Abbey Road Studios, London.
APARTE AP001 [55:01]
Ophélie Gaillard's calling-card album is just the ticket in terms of presentation. Gaillard plays a Goffriller loaned to her by CIC. As for the music it is a selection of toothsome miniatures as arranged by Craig Leon. He did a similar service for Joshua Bell not so long ago.
The music by temperament of the original and by arranger's art is warmly romantic. It is recorded strongly. Pride of place in the sound-stage is accorded to Gaillard but the orchestra is not neglected. The Song to the Moon catches the supernatural element in Dvořák and makes a link I should have made long before now with the Erben-based tone poems of his later years. The Grieg Solveig Song leaves you in no doubt that Gaillard is a fluent communicator of emotion - nothing cold or disengaged here. The Sonnambula and L'Elisir hits are smooth but leave little impression beyond a sweet glow. Leon makes prominent play with the harp and an example is in Mio Babbino Caro which is most lovingly shaped by Gaillard and her orchestral partners. The Satie pieces have each had the central heating turned on and the sentimentality setting advanced. This works better in the Gnossienne than in the Gymnopedie. The Fauré Pavane, on the other hand, is taken at an unsentimental, even impatient clip. I would, by contrast, have preferred a higher sanglote quotient. Things are more adroitly judged in Après un Rêve. The two Chopin pieces are nicely shaped, the Mazurka even making unexpected connections with Sibelius's incidental music. The Nocturne needs a little more reserve - held back rather than unleashed. Rachmaninov's Vocalise has been arranged every which way and is superbly done here. The dialogue with the violin is most touchingly done. We end with the passionately swelling and receding Tchaikovsky Valse sentimentale. This serves as a rubric for the whole collection.
Gaillard has already recorded the Bach suites, Britten suites and Sonata and Fauré pieces (all for Ambroisie) so this is no starter collection. It should please the seemingly inexhaustible market for sincerely shaped sentimental anthologies. Meantime how about next time including the world premiere recording of Florent Schmitt's superbly imaginative Cello Concerto which rejoices under the title Introit, Récit et Congé. Now that would make a most welcome entry into the CD lists. Is anyone listening, I wonder.
Rob Barnett
Should please the seemingly inexhaustible market for sincerely shaped sentimental anthologies.