The British Cello Phenomenon – A Survey of 29 Great Performers – 31 selections – music of BACH, DELIUS, SAINT-SAENS, FAURE, ROSSINI, VERDI, JANACEK, KODALY – Cello Classics (2 CDs)

by | Jun 7, 2006 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

The British Cello Phenomenon – A Survey of 29 Great Performers, incl. John Barbirolli, Jacqueline du Pré, Tim Hugh, Steven Isserlis, Anthony Pini, Raphael Wallfisch – 31 selections, music of BACH, DELIUS, SAINT-SAENS, FAURE, ROSSINI, VERDI, JANACEK, KODALY, WALTON, HANDEL, WOOD, HOLST & others – Cello Classics CC1010, 2 CDs, 2:37:08 ****:

We have here a unique musical/historical document, bringing together many of the  important cellists dating from the earliest years of recording up to the present day. Few other cultures have so enriched both the cello repertory and the list of great performers on the instrument. Among the recorded rarities is the Adagio movement from a Bach gamba sonata played by conductor John Barbirolli, one of the leading English cello teachers of his time – William Pleeth – playing a Rubra piece with the composer at the piano, and a rediscovered rare recording of Jacqueline du Pré playing Rubra’s Soliloquy with her brother-in-law conducting the ensemble (16 minutes length). Some of the tracks are just excerpts featuring cello from a larger orchestral work.  For example Douglas Cameron,  who lived until 1974, is heard in just the opening portion of The William Tell Overture. This cello star was the teacher of no less than five of the other cellists represented in the collection.

Due to the varied sources of the original recordings, there is quite a bit of variation among the tracks in sonic quality. Both discs are packed up to close to the 80 minute limit. What comes thru is a distinct style of modern British cello playing. There is a separate paragraph or two and photo of each of the 29 cellists in the note booklet.The discs preserve and spotlight the great tradition of British cello player that still exists with contemporary performers such as Steven Isserlis.

 – John Sunier

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