Charismatic playing of a much-loved concerto, caught on the wing

Kian Soltani: Dvořák

The Strad Issue: January 2024

Description: Charismatic playing of a much-loved concerto, caught on the wing

Musicians: Kian Soltani (cello) Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim; Cellists of the Staatskapelle Berlin

Works: Dvořák: Cello Concerto; works arr. cello and cello ensemble

Catalogue number: DG 483 6090

After his bright, forthright opening statement of Dvořák’s B minor Cello Concerto, Kian Soltani produces dancing spiccato and energetic bravura on his way to the second subject, which is meditative and beautiful in its simplicity. It all forms a thrilling first paragraph. And so he continues, with playing that ranges in character from intimate to heroic, with sparkling virtuosity and a lot of finely judged rubato. There is fervent yearning in the second movement, with rich, woody-toned melody in the lower register. There are passages here, with the superb woodwind in close attendance, that are akin to chamber music. Soltani’s range of voices is apparent again in the finale, where he morphs eloquently between inwardness and extrovert grandeur, the rhythm at times of military precision and at others free and expressive. This is a live performance.

The rest of the CD is a studio recording from two years later, with the sound warm and well-balanced in both. Here are short works for cello and cello ensemble (plus double bass), mostly arranged by Soltani. He is plaintive in Goin’ Home (taken from the slow movement of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony), shows a delicate sensitivity in the fourth of the Songs my mother taught me, and is soulful in Silent Woods.

Tim Homfray