COMPOSERS: Crumb,Dutilleux,Henze,Ligeti & Bacri
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi Les nouveaux interprtes
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Emmanuelle Bertrand
PERFORMER: Emmanuelle Bertrand (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: HMN 911699
Emmanuelle Bertrand’s debut recording of cello concertos by Schumann and Lalo was enthusiastically received. She also has a string of major competition awards to her credit, but her affinity with modernist and contemporary repertoire is now well enough established to give this rising French star specialist branding.
And on this evidence, it’s thoroughly deserved. Writing in her own booklet article, Bertrand gives a scholarly explanation of the use of scordatura tuning and the symbolism of the letters Dutilleux’s Trois strophes sur le nom de SACHER, which opens the programme. Her performance, taped in the composer’s presence, is arresting and naturally authoritative. She’s excellent, too, in the fearsomely demanding Henze Serenade, one of the most rewarding yet technically baffling works in the literature, and Bertrand’s account of the George Crumb Sonata is bettered only by Frans Helmerson’s definitive BIS version.
The Ligeti Sonata, with its seemingly unplayable final Capriccio, is a virtuoso tour de force, and Bertrand succeeds magnificently in making sense of this unrelentingly elusive though masterful work. Finally, she’s no less convincing in Nicolas Bacri’s Suite No. 4, written especially for her, the solitary minor caveat being that the cellist’s audible breath sounds are sometimes distracting. Otherwise, this is a triumph. Highly recommended. Michael Jameson