The title of this CD derives from the last track, Cant del
ocells (Song of the Birds), an adaptation of a Catalan folk
song by the great cellist, Pablo Casals. Declining to live in
Spain during the Franco regime, he took up residency first in
France and then later in Puerto Rico. In 1971 he addressed the
United Nations General Assembly and presented this music describing
it as ‘the sound of my country - Catalonia,’ and offering it
as a symbol of world peace. This music is eloquently described
in the liner-notes: ‘the gentle melody floats over a minimalist
accompaniment, drawing a bucolic panorama of sound.’
While a relevant name for this recording, it is shared with
a number of other cello music discs.
One could easily be misled by the programme description provided:
Spanish and Latin Cello. In reality more than half of
the music was not written for the cello but constitutes arrangements
for the instrument by past virtuosi. The Spanish also dominate
proceedings with only two of the seven composers/arrangers being
from South America. Irrespective, this is an enjoyable and well-chosen
selection with lots of rhythmic commonalities.
As one would anticipate from two seasoned professionals, the
performances are both musical and capable. The pianist is always
cognisant of her role as accompanist and that the programme
is presented as one by the cello.
Nancy Green studied cello at the Juilliard School of Music with
Leonard Rose and Lynn Harrell. She also performed in master
classes with Mstislav Rostropovich. In addition to the many
prizes won, Nancy Green was spotlighted as Young Artist of the
Year by Musical America.
Tannis Gibson holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University
of Regina magna cum laude and a Master of Music degree
from the Juilliard School of Music. Currently she is Associate
Professor of Piano at The University of Arizona.
The recording level of this disc was made atypically high, necessitating
careful attention to the volume control. However it does allow
much insight into the often ebullient playing of Nancy Green.
The subtleties of resonances in her beautiful cello are minutely
audible and ubiquitously present, especially in the Piazzolla
and Cassadó’s unaccompanied suite. While the former is frequently
recorded, the latter is rarely and may be new to many, including
some cello aficionados.
Although a favoured initiative by many musicians, including
J.S. Bach, arrangement of music for instruments other than those
for which the music was originally composed, can produce mixed
results, and may not work as well as on the original. Enrique
Granados expressed preference for Miguel Llobet’s guitar arrangements
over his originals for piano.
Pablo de Sarasate’s Zapateado is a virtuosic masterpiece
for the violin. While the cello may endow this piece with its
own set of virtues, on this occasion the detail in particularly
fast violin passages, is not replicated (Dorian DOR- 90183,
Rachel Barton; EMI Classics CDM 764 559 2, Eduardo Hernández
Asiain). Ofra Harnoy (RCA RD 60697) manages this same piece
with considerable bravura and executes it in a time of 3:05,
significantly faster than the review disc. Despite this, the
same passages suffer loss of fine detail when compared with
the violin versions. One may confidentially attribute this to
adaptation rather than player. It is fair to say that generally
the arrangements for cello presented here work well on the surrogate
The liner-notes by Nohema Fernández are comprehensive, informative
and well-written. They will be especially appreciated by listeners
with a desire for greater insight into the music and those who
This is a recording with general, wide appeal, albeit potentially
narrowed slightly by the Cassadó Suite for Solo Cello. For aficionados
this will potentially be the highlight of the disc; for the
less initiated, seventeen minutes of consecutive solo cello
may take some aural adjustment.