Cello Journey

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Holdsworth,Hussey,Parsons,Rathbone & Saxton,Walton
LABELS: Wellhard Records
WORKS: Solo pieces by Walton, Holdsworth, Hussey, Parsons, Rathbone & Saxton
PERFORMER: Tony Woollard (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: WWRCJ1

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Tony Woollard is a charismatic young cellist and, in this crowded field, is to be applauded for creating a disc of premieres rather than old favourites. Just what to choose is the question… The disc starts off promisingly with the first recorded performance of Walton’s plangent Theme for a Prince (1970), followed by one of three of Ivan Hussey’s delightful Interludes, in which Woollard plays over a loop of four cello parts.

We then get grounded by Yvonne Parson’s portentous Dove l’anima riposa. Despite a sonorous performance, the obvious harmonies and literal aural descriptions, such as in ‘Sinister and Dark’, made this feel to me more like the result of an improvisation than a thoroughly worked-through composition.

Jonathan Rathbone’s When all is said and done is a portrait of a divorce, no less, for solo cello. Bits of Elgar, Mendelssohn and Bach spill out without having been properly absorbed, though he better exploits the possibilities of the instrument, and Woollard palpably relishes performing it.

Saxton’s pungent Solo Cello Sonata (2000) makes an immediate impact as the work of a seasoned, original mind. It also begins to reveal the real quality of Woollard’s musicianship and technique.

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There’s some sameness to his vibrato (not helped by a recording which sounds over-produced), but one cannot fault his sense of line, nor the atmosphere he creates. Definitely one to watch. Helen Wallace