The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonata no.1, Suite op.16, Romances opp.36 & 51, Tarentelle op.10, Prière op.158 & Le cygnet from ‘Carnaval des animaux’
Saturday, 01 September 2007
Emmanuelle Bertrand (cello) Pascal Amoyel (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901962
This CD reveals some impressive music that surely deserves a stronger position in the repertoire. This is particularly the case with the First Cello Sonata, a work that makes considerable technical demands on the pianist, who needs to drive the musical argument forward in the outer movements. On this new release Pascal Amoyel is outstanding, bringing a real sense of theatrical drama to the first movement, fully contrasting the different sections with vivid dynamic colours. Equally, Emmanuelle Bertrand brings a searing intensity to the opening and falls in and out of the texture adeptly.
In the ensuing Andante she delightfully points the cello part to suit the harmony, although other interpreters make a more conscious attempt to draw the obvious connection with a Bach chorale. Both artists bring great vitality to the concluding Allegro, but could offer even more urgency in the Sturm und Drang writing.
The warm and ambient recording particularly suits the smaller works such as the Romances. While Bertrand produces a warm and honeyed tone, her delivery of the melodic line is sometimes a little fussy. The op.36 Romance was originally written for horn and benefits from more legato phrasing. Similarly in Prière Bertrand tends to fall away from the note slightly which marginally disrupts the line. By contrast both artists are brilliant in the sparkling Tarentelle, and bring elegance and flamboyance to the Suite.
From the September 2007 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.