The brief booklet notes to this disc tell us nothing whatsoever
about the artists, so they – and their reasons for wishing to
make yet another version of works that are already more than
adequately represented in the catalogues – remain obscure.
Li-Wei is the soloist for Elgar’s Cello Concerto, which opens
the disc, but although Li-Wei clearly has excellent technique
and clear articulation, the Concerto lacks the emotion and heart-wrenching
pathos of many other accounts – although this does pick up a
bit towards the very end. The slow movement is very introspective,
and the work as a whole is slow, reserved and distant. Although
it is given a suitable air of resignation, it lacks animation
and spirit, and I find the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra rather
The tempi in the ensuing Sea Pictures are also generally
on the slow side, with the Sea Slumber Song rather ponderous
and lacking in conviction, authority or clarity. Furthermore,
despite the turgid pace, some of the words are still unclear.
Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Campbell’s voice comes across as restricted
in In Haven, and there is a notable inflexibility and
rigidity in this movement – no sense of flow; no rhythmic freedom.
Sabbath Morning at Sea takes a long time to get going,
but we suddenly, finally, have some emotion at the end of the
movement – although I wonder how manufactured, as opposed to
genuine, this is. The organ accompaniment, however, is impressive
at this point. Campbell comes into her own in the final movement,
The Swimmer, in which her enunciation quickly picks up,
as does a sense of emotion and connection to, and understanding
and communication of, the music. Braithwaite also takes this
at a better tempo.
The disc concludes with the Prelude from The Kingdom,
and this makes an exemplary filler, with perfectly judged tempo,
and excellent playing.
So, all in all, a rather mixed and uneven disc, with some awe-inspiring
moments, and some disappointing.