Sculthorpe, Vine, C Matthews, Keane & I Blake

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: C Matthews,Keane & I Blake,Sculthorpe,Vine
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Captain Cook’s Cello
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Lowri Blake (cello, voice)
Judging from the packaging, I’d hazard a guess that Lowri Blake doesn’t suffer from a lack of self-esteem. Not only does her record label bear her name (repeated in the CD catalogue number just in case we missed it); the fold-out presentation box treats us to three handsome photographs of the cellist-chanteuse. Well, since Australia is the central theme of this recital, English reticence would be rather out of place. Blake certainly isn’t a reticent cellist: she’s a robust, technically solid presence throughout this disc (with just the occasional slight lapse in intonation in the difficult double stopping of Colin Matthews’s Palinode). She may not have the spark or subtlety of Steven Isserlis, or the singing emotional generosity of Yo-Yo Ma, but she does at least sound committed to the music she plays. The solo Threnody and the multi-movement Requiem by Peter Sculthorpe hold the attention, as does the exhilarating conclusion of Carl Vine’s Inner World, for cello and pre-recorded CD. Recordings are generally good. The cellist’s brother Ian Blake mixes cello, vocal and Australian natural sounds very imaginatively in his own Verklärter Bungalow – a contrast to the somewhat naive stereo left-right effects in parts of Vine’s piece. Not an uninteresting musical tour by any means, but in the end, Ian Blake’s Bungalow was the only part of it I had the urge to revisit. Stephen Johnson