The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Shostakovich: Cello Concertos nos.1 & 2
Monday, 01 September 2008
THE STRAD RECOMMENDS
Daniel Müller-Schott (cello) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Yakov Kreizberg (conductor)
Orfeo C 659081 A
Yakov Kreizberg recently notched up a notable success as a sympathetic concerto partner for Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott in Brahms’s ‘Double’. A similar level of preparation with regard to the orchestral accompaniment is evident in this finely balanced recording. In the First Concerto one feels the cello, pounding away at the ferocious double-stops, buoyantly pitched against the orchestra, the woodwind responding with incisive rhythmic precision. The brisk tempo of the opening movement adds to the exhilarating momentum, although the ensuing Moderato is delivered at a slower tempo than Shostakovich’s prescribed metronome mark. Nonetheless Müller- Schott amply demonstrates his expressive and eloquent abilities, ensuring the cadenza has sufficient forward momentum before launching into a fervent account of the virtuosic finale.
The Second Concerto is unremittingly dour, reading much like a private diary of the trials and tribulations that the composer suffered during the Stalin years. The darkness of timbre is suggested not only from the initial cello ruminations but also the raucous, almost pagan horns that tear through the orchestral texture at the opening of the finale and the deathly skeletal sounds that punctuate the work’s closing passage for the soloist. With the work being such an extensive essay in grey and black, it provides a challenge. Fortunately Müller-Schott is adept at generating a vocal quality to the line, and at delivering a natural inflection and nuance that make for great poignancy. This is hardly under-recorded repertoire, but both concertos receive outstanding performances from Müller-Schott, and the orchestral contribution is equally fine.
From the September 2008 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.