SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

LALO: Cello Concerto in D minor; Divertissement for Orch.; Scherzo for Orch.; MILHAUD: Cello Concerto No. 1 – Nadege Rochat, c./ Wurttembergisch Philharmonie/ Ola Rudner – Ars Production

A disc of romantic French cello concertos and orchestral music that will please those looking for tuneful and ingratiating music, well performed and recorded.

Published on November 16, 2012

LALO: Cello Concerto in D minor; Divertissement for Orchestra; Scherzo for Orchestra; MILHAUD: Cello Concerto No. 1 – Nadege Rochat, cello/ Wurttembergisch Philharmonie/ Ola Rudner – Ars Production multichannel SACD ARS 38 119, 67:21 [Distr. by Naxos]  ****:

The French composer Edourd Lalo (1823-1892) had his foot in two musical camps: he loved the seriousness and rigor of German Romanticism but also was admired by Debussy and others who composed in a more modern style. Lalo was also one of the few composers who was proficient in chamber, orchestral, and operatic forms. Known today for his violin concerto, Symphonie espagnole, this disc offers his only cello concerto and other orchestral music.

In the Cello Concerto No. 1 (1876), cellist Nadege Rochat is especially sensitive in the lighthearted, more balletic sections (e.g. the Spanish dance rhythms (jotas) in the second movement’s Intermezzo), but the slow tempo of the work’s performance (almost seven minutes slower than the classic Starker (Mercury 432-010), loses some of the inherent drama. The Divertissement for Orchestra (1872) is an ingratiating suite of orchestral music culled from his opera Fiesco’s Conspiracy of Genoa, which won third prize in a competition held by the Theatre Lyrique, but never was performed. It includes a Vivace that imitates birds (aubade), a delicate balletic andantino and a rambunctious finale. A five-minute Scherzo for Orchestra (1883) is equally spirited and pleasant listening.

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) was a member of the French Les Six, a group of composers living in Paris in the 1920s who became known for their modernist works, especially influenced by jazz (La creation du monde). He was one of the most prolific composers that ever lived, writing over 400 works in many genres. Milhaud was also an important teacher – his students included Phillip Glass, Dave Brubeck, Morton Subotnick and Iannis Xenakis. The Cello Concerto No. 1 on this disk is anything but modern, at least by today’s standards. It’s a pleasant 16-minute work that includes an elegant dance movement (nonchalant) that gives Rochat a chance to negotiate the virtuosic cello’s passages superbly. A mournful funeral march gives way to a cheerful romp that ends this richly melodic work.

The SACD sound is superb and Nadege Rochat is a young cellist to watch in the future.

—Robert Moon




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