Lalo, Gluzunov, Saint-Saëns, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky, Casals

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Casals,Dvorak,Gluzunov,Lalo,Saint-Saens,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Romance
WORKS: Lalo: Cello Concerto in D minor; plus works by Glazunov, Saint-Saëns, Dvorák, Tchaikovsky & Casals
PERFORMER: Han-Na Chang (cello); Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano
CATALOGUE NO: 382 3902

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Han-Na Chang can appear rather chameleon-like when in the studio. In her recordings of Shostakovich and Prokofiev she clearly resembles Rostropovich, whilst in this disc of Romantic repertoire her approach is reminiscent of Isserlis. However, as in her recent recordings, her partnership with Antonio Pappano and excellent sound makes the project a compelling success, with every phrase well characterised and the accompanying passages fantastically rhythmic and light. Inevitably we have well-worn chestnuts such as Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous Andante Cantabile, which is lavished here with great tenderness and a richly-hued tone. Glazunov’s Melody, less frequently heard, is not in the same league as some of his other miniatures such as the Chant du Ménestrel. More persuasive as a cameo is Dvorák’s rather tricky Rondo, Op. 94, the rustic elements are delightfully captured in this notable performance. Chang includes two war-horses of the student cello repertoire: Saint-Saëns’s Allegro Appassionata – here given a feisty delivery, although the slower tempos are perhaps a little exaggerated – and the Lalo Concerto. On the whole, I find the latter work full of grandiose bluster, but the Intermezzo has a catchy Spanish dance metre which is treated here with subtle nuance and sophistication. A number of these works feature regularly for music examinations so this seems to be a disc for young aspiring cellists rather than serious aficionados. Joanne Talbot

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Reviewed April 2007