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Alvorada
Ophélie Gaillard (cello)
Other performers listed at end of review
rec. 2014, Paris
APARTÉ AP104 [58:10 + 52:41]

This is my first encounter with the French-Swiss cellist, Ophélie Gaillard. She has made a number of recordings with Ambroisie and Aparté, three of which have been reviewed with mixed comments on this site (Vivaldi sonatas – review; Boccherini concertos – review; Dreamsreview). Here Gaillard takes us on a musical tour of Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Cuba, with a varied collection of classical works and popular tunes. She is joined on that tour by a number of instrumentalists and singers. While Ms Gaillard’s is the only name on the front cover, this is very much a shared journey.

Not surprisingly, the selections are dominated by the tango, rumba and other well-known Latin dances, and have significant parts for castanets, guitar and bandoneon. If that sets off alarm bells for you, don’t stop reading yet, as there are serious works as well.

I headed for the two works I knew well, Piazzolla’s Oblivion, here arranged for cello, bandoneon, double bass and piano, and the famous Cantilena from the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 of Villa-Lobos. The former is quite superb, as good as I have heard, with Juanjo Mosalini’s bandoneon really striking in its soulfulness. The Villa-Lobos is unexceptional, perhaps unsurprising since Gaillard’s role is less prominent, the other cellos played by students from the Geneva Haute école de musique.

With such a variety of music, serious and light, tracks that didn’t appeal to me will very possibly be your favourites, and vice versa. That makes it very difficult to review. Two songs, including the title track, feature famous Portuguese singer/guitarist Toquinho. They didn’t appeal at all: too much like cocktail lounge background music. The other with a singer, Nostalgias is much stronger, and elevated by Gaillard’s cello accompaniment. The three Grand Tangos by Piazzolla with the low strings of cello and double bass set against the bandoneon, are appealingly dark and almost sparse.

I won’t attempt to discuss each work, but the final one should be mentioned, as it is the most serious and substantial composition, and hence the most likely to appeal to readers of this site: Gaspar Cassadó’s Suite for solo cello. I am familiar with his gorgeous piano trio, but the suite is not a work that I had heard before. It clearly makes virtuosic demands on the performer, and without any comparisons (for example, Alisa Weilerstein – review) it seems to me that Gaillard meets these challenges very well.

Rather oddly, the final track – the third movement of the suite – has what computer game designers call an “Easter egg”: an undocumented special item. I only noticed because I ripped the album to my computer to listen to it, and noticed that track 11 on disc 2, instead of being 5:54 was 12:06. Even then, the extra “track” – Latin-influenced jazz to my uneducated ears – only starts after two minutes of silence following the conclusion of the Cassadó.

The sound quality is truly exceptional – every instrument is clear and detailed, but there is no sense of being too closely miked. The notes do not discuss individual works to any great extent, concentrating on the origins of the famous dances, as well as providing some personal thoughts from Gaillard.

The problem I have with this beautifully recorded and performed musical journey is that the contrast of lounge music, Latin dances and serious classical solo cello is so great that almost everyone will find as many tracks to dislike as like.

David Barker



Contents
CD1
Manuel de Falla
Siete canciones populares españolas
1. Jota
2. Nana
Enrique Granados
3. Intermezzo (Goyescas)
Juan Carlos Cobián & Enrique Domingo Cadimaco
4. Nieblas del riachuelo*
Carlos Cachaça & Cartola
5. Alvorada* feat. Toquinho
Moisés Simons
6. El Manisero*
Isolina Carillo
7. Dos Gardenias*
José Dames & Horacio Basterra
8. Nada*
Egberto Gismonti & Geraldo Carneiro
9. Água e Vinho*
Astor Piazzolla
10. Escualo*
11. Oblivion*
Astor Piazzolla
Grand Tango*
12. Tempo di tango
13. Meno mosso
14. Piu mosso
Juan Carlos Cobián & Enrique Domingo Cadimaco
15. Nostalgias*

CD2
Julián Plaza
1. Payadora*
Félix Lipesker
2. Romántica*
Alfredo Gobbi
3. A Orlando Goñi*
Toquinho & Vinicius de Moraes
4. Tarde em Itapuã*
Tom Jobim
5. Wave*
Heitor Villa-Lobos
6. O canto do ciscne negro
Heitor Villa-Lobos & Ruth Valadares Corrêa
7. Bachiana Brasileira No. 5 (Cantilena)
8. El cant dels ocells
Gaspar Cassadó Suite pour violoncelle seul
9. Prelude – Fantasia
10. Sardana – Danza
11. Intermezzo e danza finale

* arranged by Gabriel Sivak

Other performers
Sabine Devieilhe (soprano)
Toquinho (chant)
Sandra Rumolino (chant)
Cyril Garac (violon)
Romain Lecuyer (doublebass)
Luiz de Aquino, Rudi Flores, Emmanuel Rossfelder (guitar)
Sandrine Chatron (harp)
Nicolas Genest (trumpet)
Fabien Cyprien (trombone)
David Chupete, Florent Jodelet, Rubens Celso Lopes, Christian Paoli (percussion)
Gerardo Di Giusto, Gabriel Sivak, Fernando Maguna (piano)
Simao Alcoforado Barreira, Ana Catarina Braga, Anne-Charlotte Dupas, Clémence Issartel, Esther Lefebvre, Hugo Paiva, Laure Zaugg (cellos)


 




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