DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH - Cello Concerto No. 1

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DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH - Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107 - Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40 - Emmanuelle Bertrand (Cello) - Pascal Rophé (Conductor) - BBC National Orchestra of Wales - 3149020214220 - Released: April 2013 - Harmonia Mundi 902142

This new recording of the Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107 by Dmitri Shostakovich is all the more appealing due to cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand's warm, elastic, and expressive playing. Not to say that some of her male counterparts do not display as much expressive power within their readings, it's just that they seem to inject a bit more of a "steely" edge to theirs which, mind you, fits Shostakovich's temperament very well. But it's nice to hear an interpretation scrutinized with a warm heart rather than a cold intellect. Under Bertrand's hands, the cello takes on an almost human character, a living voice. Take for example the last few minutes of the slow movement, where the instrument sounds like a child whimpering from fear, as if forsaken and abandoned to the world. It's moments like this of deep expression that grab your attention. I've heard other recordings in which the orchestra sounded a bit more commited to the score, but then again, this work's focus is first and foremost on the cello part, and that is where the beauty of this performance lies.

This CD also presents the Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40. The two works are worlds apart in style, and Emmanuelle Bertrand easily shifts gears from the grim and sardonic Concerto to the more innocent and lyrical Sonata without losing a beat. Her projection here takes on a darker, more romantic sound which suits this Sonata very well.

Jean-Yves Duperron - May 2013