SHOSTAKOVICH: Concerto No. 2 for Cello and Orchestra – BRITTEN – Suite No. 3 for Solo Cello – Pieter Wispelwey, cello /Sinfonietta Cracovia/ Jurjen Hempel – Channel Classics Multichannel SACD CCS SA 25308, 62 min. ***** [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:
This excellent disc from Channel Classics presents Dutch cellist extraordaire Pieter Wispelwey’s second foray into Shostakovich’s literature for cello and orchestra. The first disc was magnificent, and this disc perhaps even betters that superb offering, because it pairs the work with Benjamin Britten’s Suite No. 3 for Solo Cello – which seems to make a little more musical sense than the former discs’ Kodaly pairing. Britten and Shostakovich were fast friends, and through Shostakovich they also shared an appreciation for the talents of youthful virtuoso cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who was the dedicatee of these classic works from each composer. Additionally, the Britten piece employs the theme DSCH, which was Shostakovich’s signature and trademark, and gives the work a very Shostakovichian feel.
The multichannel SACD disc is superb, as always from Channel Classics, and offers breathtaking sound and performances from both soloist and orchestra. And with the Sinfonietta Cracovia (Krakow, Poland) essentially a chamber orchestra, the Shostakovich work is given an especially intimate performance, not only stylistically, but acoustically as well. However, don’t let that intimacy fool you; when the massive strokes on the tympani appear midway through the first movement, the effect is not only jarring but incredibly powerful. These performances are near definitive, and with the incredibly good sound from Channel Classics, you’d be hard pressed to find a better coupling. Very highly recommended!
— Tom Gibbs