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French Cello Concertos: Works by Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Massenet, Milhaud & Offenbach

Hee-Young Lim; London Symphony Orchestra/Scott Yoo (Sony)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
CD_80358118425_LIM_cmyk

French Cello Concertos
Works by Saint-Saëns, Lalo, Massenet, Milhaud & Offenbach
Hee-Young Lim (cello); London Symphony Orchestra/Scott Yoo
Sony 80358118425   73:38 mins

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The liner notes tell us that the orchestra were very impressed by this soloist – and well they might be. If Hee-Young Lim’s virtuosity places her on a level with several of her fellow cellists, she outshines many in the warmth and expressiveness of her tone, which is of truly rare beauty. She also has the measure of Saint-Saëns’s Concerto No. 1, managing charm, power and fireworks with great aplomb.

Of the Lalo concerto Lim says ‘I completely love it more than any other of the big concertos’. The only problems here are possibly not hers: its dramatic opening is always difficult to bring off because, as here, the orchestra tends to overpower the soloist’s responses; and whoever decided to lower the tempo of the central Andantino con moto well below the metronome mark was not doing that movement any favours. But in the finale Lim’s virtuosity and sense of fun are a delight, just slightly marred by overheavy timpani. The Milhaud Concerto is not one of his more persuasive works: she does the necessary, as she does in the two lollipops by Offenbach and Massenet. The notes quote her mentioning Dutilleux as an embodiment of French language and culture. Let’s hope Tout un monde lointain is in her sights.

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Roger Nichols