The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Four highly varied solo cello works are given memorable performances
Musicians: Emmanuelle Bertrand (cello)
Composer: Britten, Cassadó, Amoyel, Kodály

Much-recorded French cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand brings her own blend of flair, elegance and impressive technique to these solo cello staples, resulting in stylish and characterful intepretations.

Cassadó’s Suite, full of colour and excitement, has a real flamenco flavour in its flamboyant runs up and down the instrument and rapid cross-string interjections. Bertrand attacks the opening of the Kodály Sonata (wrongly billed on the disc as Suite) with passion – you can visualise the toss of her head in the Scotch snap rhythms – and draws a voluptuous tone from her lower strings.

Somehow she does not inhabit the Britten Suite to the same extent as the other works, but her performance still has plenty of memorable moments, not least the unpredictable madness of her Fantastico and the glowing, rising chords near the work’s sombre end.

Itinérance is the fruit of a project focusing on the importance of music to two Auschwitz survivors. The bleakness of its outer sections is almost unbearable, and Bertrand’s wordless singing voice enters near the end over her sustained low playing to haunting and novel effect.

Bertrand breathes with the music, sometimes audibly, but never to the detriment of the disc’s sound, which is just reverberant enough to make the most of the full cello tone. The CD is accompanied by a high-quality DVD showing Bertrand recording, teaching and talking about the works.