52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
(currently suspended)


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

More Preludes to Chopin
Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

Special Price and we are still delivering

Recordings of the Month


Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Haydn Scottish Songs

Choral Music

Liszt Sonata

Renaissance Bohemia


Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

Support us financially by purchasing this from

The Solitary Cello
Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967)

Sonata Op.8 for Cello Solo [30.19]
Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013)
3 Strophes Sur Le Nom de Sacher for Cello Solo [9.34]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1911-1976)
Cello Suite No.1 Op.72 [20.37]
Oren Shevlin (cello)
rec. 2000, St. Bartholomews’ Church, Brighton, England
Booklet notes in English
CLAUDIO RECORDS CC5046-2 [64.07]

This CD appears to be a reissue of a 2000 release in its original format and packaging, an observation also supported by its illustration and brief review in a 2013 article on this site concerning the Claudio label. On that occasion, it was enthusiastically received by Dave Billinge, singling out the Kodály sonata as worth the price of the disc.

My bearings for the Kodály work, often called the greatest for solo cello since the Bach suites, and once thought unplayable, were set many years ago when I recorded Rohan de Saram live in an unbridled, take-no-prisoners performance. That sense of wildness, undoubtedly fuelled by the frisson of the occasion, has been my yardstick ever since, seeming so intrinsic to the soul of this extraordinary piece. In the intervening years, I’ve heard and collected many versions, including Lluís Claret, Maria Kliegel, Pieter Wispelwey, Natalie Clein and, of course, Janos Starker, although I’ve not heard his 1956 account on Saga, which many hold to be the finest ever, and closest I would believe to Kodály’s vision, having also on occasion won the composer’s approbation.

Oren Shevlin, long-time principal cellist of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, is clearly a very accomplished performer, and delivers Kodály’s masterpiece cleanly and confidently. Apart from the odd stray note (at 6:25 of the opening allegro, for example), his technical address and control are impressive. But while his reading is certainly not lacking passion, he does hang fire on occasion, the final cadence of the first movement, say, a little too perfunctory. In comparison to the digitally recorded competition, Shevlin comes across as more measured, mellow and lyrical, assisted by the kindly acoustic of his ecclesiastical setting. At a broader tempo initially, Clein is more inflected and, if Starker defines the benchmark, more idiomatically accented. Kliegel’s tone is wirier, but with an earthier feel to her playing and a greater sense, to me, of that essential abandon. Wispelwey I find a little over-blown, while Claret, at the swiftest of tempos, conveys urgency but little else. If the other works on this CD appeal, Shevlin’s Kodály can be recommended, but it’s one of those works that, once discovered, won’t be fully revealed by one recording alone.

After the shock and awe of Kodály’s sonata, Dutilleux’s three short pieces in tribute to Paul Sacher bring a more subdued and introspective mood, but as is soon revealed, no less demanding on the cellist, also exploring the full sonic possibilities of the instrument, as variations on the motto Es A C H E Re. While a somewhat less accessible work, one is again left in no doubt of Shevlin’s virtuosity and keen musical instincts. The same could also be said of Britten’s first unaccompanied cello suite, dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, which exemplifies the rough, gritty music of his latterday style. Within the language of the piece, one recognises its variety of inferences, the Spanish flavour in the rhythms of the Serenata, for example, and the droning sounds of the Bordone, emulating perhaps bagpipes or a hurdy gurdy. Shevlin applies his skill and sensitivities to great effect in this multi-faceted, demanding work, and while not possessing quite the authority of its dedicatee’s account on Decca, it has, not least, a more ingratiating recording.

If the combination of these works appeals or, say, you are looking for a new angle on the Kodály or Britten pieces in truthfully recorded sound, these are finely conceived and polished performances by Oren Shevlin that would serve admirably to introduce, or provide an alternative for, these three twentieth century masterpieces of the solo cello repertoire.

Des Hutchinson



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger