Classical CD Reviews

ELGAR: Concerto in E Minor for Cello and Orch.; Sospiri; Salut d’amour; La capricieuse; DVORAK: Waldesruh’; Rondo in G Minor for Cello and Orch.; RESPIGHI: Adagio con variazioni – Sol Gabetta, cello/ Danish Nat. Sym. Orch./ Mario Venzago – RCA

Sol Gabetta displays a strong, sweet presence in this showcase disc of classics from Elgar, Dvorak, and Respighi.

Published on November 28, 2012

ELGAR: Concerto in E Minor for Cello and Orch.; Sospiri; Salut d’amour; La capricieuse; DVORAK: Waldesruh’; Rondo in G Minor for Cello and Orch.; RESPIGHI: Adagio con variazioni – Sol Gabetta, cello/ Danish Nat. Sym. Orch./ Mario Venzago – RCA

ELGAR: Concerto in E Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 85; Sospiri; Salut d’amour; La capricieuse; DVORAK: Waldesruh’, Op. 68, No. 5; Rondo in G Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 94; RESPIGHI: Adagio con variazioni – Sol Gabetta, cello/ Danish Nat. Sym. Orch./ Mario Venzago – RCA B8697658242, 66:01 ****:

Argentine cello virtuoso Sol Gabetta (b. 1981) has a charming showcase disc, a combination of works of variegated weights and textures, deftly performed. It has become unlikely that any female cello prodigy can perform the 1919 Elgar Concerto without incurring the invidious comparison to the late Jacqueline Du Pre, but Gabetta holds her own, making her own firm points with the help of maestro Mario Venzago. Intimately impassioned, Gabetta brings to the Elgar Concerto that valedictory pathos apt for a period piece that evolved out of the throes of World War I and its aftermath of universal skepticism. While I gravitate to those recorded performances by Navarra, Du Pre, and Ma for their athletic energy, this performance (rec. 9-12 November 2009) offers grace and subtle melancholy, perhaps a softer nuance into the tragic regret and resignation. The mellow sound of Gabetta’s 1759 Guadagnini instrument cements the musical allure of this glowing rendition.

The new arrangements of the Elgar “string” works like Sospiri (Sighs) from 1914 have their own fascination, beginning with this piece’s evasive grace, what Elgar’s wife called “a breath of peace in a troubled world.” The 1888 Salut d’amour has had its own life as a violin miniature, and its amorous innocence remains intact. La Capricieuse, too, proffers another violin work (1891) that translates well to Gabetta’s light, bouncing bow and cantabile singing style.

The Dvorak pieces, utilized by the composer for his 1892 “farewell concerts,” from Bohemia to America, include the Silent Woods, Op. 68, No. 5, from an original two-piano arrangement of 1883. The middle section seems to imitate the colloquy of wind instruments and cello we find in a Tchaikovsky opera aria, while the outer section, Lento e molto cantabile, floats in ecstatic space. The bravura Rondo in G Minor first had its energetic but dark color revealed to me by way of Emanuel Feuermann. Its own middle section sings with homesickness, the delicate colors of the orchestra in perfect complement to Gabetta’s often sizzling rapid figures.

The 1924 Adagio con variazioni by Ottorino Respighi (1924) add yet another coloristic string to his already full harp. The noble theme in the cello opens over a softly punctuated bass line and proceeds into nine variations of shifting character and texture. The taut, lofty conception of the whole reveals a warm collaboration between Gabetta, Venzago, and a responsive Danish National Symphony Orchestra. The quality of recording by sound engineer Lars Christensen projects loveliness at every moment, particularly between Gabetta and the Danish woodwind section.

—Gary Lemco




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