Classical CD Reviews

SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto; Sonata for Cello and Piano; Moderato for Cello and Piano – Emmanuelle Bertrand, cello/ Pascal Amoyel, p. /BBC National Orch. of Wales/ Pascal Rophé – Harmonia mundi

A fine performance of two Shostakovich works for cello from two different periods in the composer’s life.

Published on April 12, 2013

SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto No. 1 Op. 107; Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 40; Moderato for Cello and Piano – Emmanuelle Bertrand, cello/ Pascal Amoyel, piano /BBC National Orch. of Wales/ Pascal Rophé -  Harmonia mundi HMC 902142, 63:07 ****:

The Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1, written in 1959, gives is an excellent reading, capturing the brooding mood of this piece with restraint and sensitivity. Cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand has won many accolades for a younger musician, and she earns them here.

The Cello Sonata, dating from 1934, is also an excellent performance by Bertrand and pianist Pascal Amoyel. It’s a lighter and more optimistic piece, more reflective of the younger Shostakovich. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales is in good form, with a crisp performance led by Pascal Rophé.

The disc ends with the Moderato for Cello and Piano, a brief work in A minor discovered well after the composer’s death. It dates closer in time to the Cello Sonata, and is filled with melodic and tempo experimentation.

This is a fine recording and performance of these compositions. It sounds very pleasing, with microphones placed closely enough to get instrumental detail, yet far enough back to get a sense of the acoustic space of the recording venue in Wales. I’d love to hear an SACD of this performance, to capture the upper harmonics of the cello even more cleanly.

—Mel Martin




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