WORKS: Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8
PERFORMER: Oren Shevlin (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: CC 5046-2
Claudio entitles this new release ‘The Solitary Cello’, but glance through the catalogue, and you’ll find that Oren Shevlin’s cello isn’t so ‘solitary’ after all. Frans Helmerson’s disc of the same name on BIS included one of the finest available recordings of the phenomenally exacting Kodály solo Cello Sonata. Though never as volatile or impulsive as Janos Starker’s Delos account, Helmerson’s realisation is more insightful and adroit than Shevlin’s newcomer. Manchester-born Shevlin gives a bitingly acerbic reading, technically accomplished, but disappointingly short on dynamic contrasts and limited in idiomatic range, besides which there’s still something worryingly anachronistic about his full-on emotional out-wringings during the Adagio.
The Dutilleux triptych honouring the 70th birthday of Paul Sacher (a 1976 Rostropovich commission) was recently recorded by the young French virtuoso Emmanuelle Bertrand for Harmonia Mundi. Taped in the composer’s presence, her account is both better played and more naturally authoritative than Shevlin’s. He’s heard at his considerable best in the first Britten Suite, however, but despite its strengths Shevlin’s performance has neither the sense of stylistic freedom nor the compelling physical vitality of Tim Hugh’s excellent Naxos version or Robert Cohen’s Decca rival. On balance a disappointing issue – there are superior versions of each of these works in the catalogue. Michael Jameson