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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Cello Concerto in A minor, Op.129 (1850) [23:32]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Silent Woods, Op.68 no.5 (1893) [5:54]
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op.104 (1884) [39:14]
Jamie Walton (cello)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
rec. 4-6 April 2011, Walthamstow Assembly Halls, London.
SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD322 [68:43]

Jamie Walton is an up-and-coming English cellist who has garnered good reviews for his previous recordings. He was one of the last pupils of the great William Pleeth whom Jacqueline du Pré referred to as her “Cello Daddy”. Here we have two of the major nineteenth century concertos and Walton is entering into a crowded marketplace, especially in the Dvořák. I veer towards the romantic approach in these works and expect my emotions to be tugged. Sadly despite fine playing, this is not the case here.
 
The Schumann concerto is one of the composer’s later works and is a heart-on-sleeve work. Having just heard Jacqueline Du Pré in both a studio and live recording there was a lack of intensity in Walton’s performance and in the accompaniment. There is no doubt of Walton’s quality in playing but there seems some inability to project the music to the listener. The slow movement instead verged towards the syrupy and the finale lacked the intensity vital to this work.
 
The short Silent Woods acts as an interlude between the two concertos and is very well worth hearing. Ironically in this brief piece Walton appears more at ease and delivers a fine presentation.
 
The Dvořák concerto is one of my favourite works and here certainly started well. The orchestra is in fine form. This is better than the Schumann but again it seems too introspective and lacks the spirit found in the great performances. The slow movement is too matter of fact - almost going through the motions. The finale started strangely but things began to look up. There is nice interplay between soloist and orchestra although it is still lacking in sheer grip. The playing of the Philharmonia and conducting of Ashkenazy are very fine as is the recording. That said, I wonder if the fact that only two days were used for recording meant that there was less time than ideal.
 
There are just so many fine versions of these works in the catalogue that this collection sadly fails to join them.  

David R Dunsmore 

Masterwork Index: Dvořák cello concerto



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