Jonathan Cohen

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The favourite tracks of the cellist, conductor and keyboard player

The orchestra brings out the energy and colours that must have been in Zelenka’s mind.

Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
Zelenka Sinfonia à 8 concertanti in A minor ZWV189
I’m a big fan of Zelenka, a Czech Baroque composer who worked in Dresden. The Sinfonia is modelled on the concerto grosso yet its form and style are quirky, with instrumental solos darting out of the orchestra from the oboe, violin, bassoon and cello. In this recording the orchestra brings out the pumped energy and extraordinary colours that must have been foremost in Zelenka’s mind.

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
Lambert Ombre de mon amant
French Baroque music is not often performed in the UK, but it is a veritable treasure trove of expressive art. This intimate air de cour is beautifully performed here. I love the dark colours, the nuanced expression of the voice and the delicate ornamentation.

Barbara Hendricks (soprano), English Chamber Orchestra/Jeffrey Tate
Mozart ‘Fra i pensier più funesti’ from Lucio Silla
I recently recorded this aria with my ensemble, Arcangelo, and German soprano Christiane Karg. I was blown away by the beauty, skill and freshness of the music. Mozart expertly paints the horror, misery, depression and panic of the female protagonist, Giunia, whose lover is incarcerated by Lucio Silla. In this recording, Barbara Hendricks conveys a very brittle and human Giunia. Her sound is quavering and beautiful.

Anna Netrebko (soprano), Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano), Orchestra e Coro dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano
Rossini ‘Quis est homo’ from Stabat Mater
I love this fabulous recording, which has a stellar cast. It’s very emotional and the ‘Quis est homo’ movement is exceptional and evidently operatic. The rich and expressive voices of the soloists float over an orchestral accompaniment that is simple yet masterly in its conception and orchestration.

Nicolas Altstaedt (cello), José Gallardo (piano)
Killmayer 5 Romanzen for cello and piano
Altstaedt’s and Gallardo’s dazzling technical ability and refreshing musicianship bring excitement and exploration to these inventive pieces by contemporary composer Wilhelm Killmayer. His musical language is really interesting. It’s tonal yet exploratory and full of contrasts in colour. I enjoy the wealth of intelligent dialogue between the instruments.

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