“Shadow, Echo, Memory” = NW U. Cello Ens. – Music by ZACHARY WADSWORTH, GABRIEL FAURÉ, MICHAEL VAN DER SLOOT, SERGEI RACHMANINOV, AARON JAY KERNIS, GYÖRGY LIGETI, HANS THOMALLA and GUSTAV MAHLER (TrackList follows) Hans Jorgen Jensen, dir. – Sonos Luminus SLE-70004 CD, TT: 63:05 (7/9/16) *****: 

Hauntingly beautiful cello music.

This disc was an unexpected surprise. In my stack of review discs for the month, I placed it near the bottom thinking I would not find it very interesting. Instead, this disc was a pleasure to listen to, containing eight works transcribed for cello ensemble.

I should begin by saying I’ve never heard a cello ensemble, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined a small group of cellos, but instead some of these selections feature up to 58 players, mostly cellists, but there are also bass, guitar, percussion and harp. The music on offer includes classical, and contemporary music, some familiar, some not. It’s all excellently presented and very nicely played.

Some of these transcriptions, like Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna. I predicted would simply not work for cellos. It did, and it’s lovely. So is Fauré’s Apres Un Reve. Same for the Mahler Adagietto from the Symphony No. 5.

In addition, there are works I’ve never heard, written specifically for the cello ensemble, like Zachary Wadsworth’s Three Lacquer Prints and Shadow, Echo, Memory by Michael Van Der Sloot. These are also fine listens.

It’s rare that I’m greatly surprised by a disc, but the music, transcription or not, is beautiful and the playing is first rate. The stereo recording is just fine, with a nice image of the ensemble stretched between the two speakers with a hint of depth.

It may be the first cello ensemble you’ll hear, even if your musical journeys have been pretty complete, but I think this disc will make you want to hear more. Highly recommended!


Zachary Wadsworth:
Three Lacquer Prints
1. I – Temple Ceremony
2. II – A Year Passes
3. III – A Burnt Offering
Gabriel Fauré:
4. Après Un Rêve
Michael van der Sloot:|
5. Shadow, Echo, Memory
Sergei Rachmaninov:
6. Vocalise
Hans Thomalla:
7. Intermezzo (from Fremd)
Aaron Jay Kernis:
8. Ballad
György Ligeti:
9. Lux Aeterna
Gustav Mahler:
10. Adagietto (from Symphony No. 5) 

—Mel Martin