Saint Saëns, Schumann, Tchaikovsky

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Saint Saëns,Schumann,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Cello Concerto in A minor, Variations on a Rococo Theme.
PERFORMER: Andreas Brantelid (cello); Danish National Radio SO/Michael Schønwandt
CATALOGUE NO: 213 0382

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Here is a very promising cellist indeed. Taught by Torlief Thedéen and Frans Helmerson, Andreas Brantelid combines some of the tonal subtlety of the former with the big-scale muscularity of the latter. Even more promising is the relationship he seems to have struck up with Michael Schønwandt of the Danish National Radio SO. Too often in such recordings the orchestra is relegated to backing band to an inexperienced soloist, but here there is a real ensemble of vision of the works. Schønwandt allows Brantelid space to dream in the Schumann, which he does with supreme lyricism. This is a convincing account, thoughtful and elegantly played. Yes, it lacks the impetuous fire and mystery brought by such great cellists as Rostropovich and Isserlis, and tends towards the careful, particularly in the final two movements. Angst and spontaneity are also lacking in Saint Saëns’s Concerto No.1, which Brantelid plays so accurately that we are perhaps too aware of the actual notation. Where the 20-year-old is strongest is in music of limpid grace such as in the second movement of the Saint Saëns’s and in the more languid Rococo Variation. Here Brantelid’s nonchalant flair and range of timbres is mesmerising. AS he nears the end of the blazing cadenza in the Rococo, he releases the sound to magical effec and returns to the melody with velvet tread. I, for one, shall be going to hear him at the Wigmore Hall in June.