The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Warm-hearted Stanford from a rising star of the cello
Musicians: Gemma Rosefield (cello) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Manze
Marking British cellist Gemma Rosefield’s Hyperion debut, this is a significant disc for her and she does not disappoint. Winner of the 2007 Pierre Fournier award and a new member of the prestigious Ensemble 360, she plays Stanford’s music with a real feeling for period style, using graceful portamentos and displaying a deep lyricism.
Rosefield’s solo entry in the Cello Concerto is immediately notable for its graceful, delicate phrasing. Her tone is full but not forceful, and one occasionally feels she needs to push her sound a little more to match the orchestra. The Molto adagio movement is beautifully done, its lilting triplet figure touchingly played, and the finale is kept light and tight by both orchestra and soloist.
It is interesting to see how Stanford kept returning to the cello: the works here stretch from 1869 to the end of the First World War. In the Rondo, which the composer wrote in Dublin aged 17, Rosefield never sacrifices beauty of tone in the bravura passages, and her playing of the Irish Rhapsody no.3 exudes tenderness, with some majestic double-stops.
The Ballata and Ballabile, composed for Beatrice Harrison in 1918 but not performed with orchestra until 1988, boasts some searing playing high on the A string in the Ballata, while the Ballabile dances delightfully along.