Haydn: Cello Concerto in C; Cello Concerto in D; Overture to Lo speziale

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Cello Concerto in C; Cello Concerto in D; Overture to Lo speziale
PERFORMER: Han-Na Chang (violin); Dresden Staatskapelle/Giuseppe Sinopoli
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56532 2
The Haydn cello concertos may be staples of the student repertoire, but they can only come alive in all their smiling grace if the performer has absolute mastery of the instrument. From the moment the 14-year-old Han-Na Chang cuts her first robust chords of the C major moderato, it is clear that the cello is still mastering her. She is abundantly musical: each phrase is nicely turned, her slow movements are touching in their simplicity, her passagework is brisk and there is a strong sense of enjoyment in the sheer physicality of playing. But the tempi are over-sedate, and her sound and intonation not always true. Chang seems to take her lead from Sinopoli and the Staatskapelle, and is inhibited from injecting her part with imagination of her own. No doubt this will change. When, as here, you can almost see the score unrolling before you, some alchemical act of interpretation has not occurred.

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For an exquisitely poetic and mercurial reading, Truls Mørk and the Norwegian CO (Virgin) is still my first choice, or the instinctively graceful Yo-Yo Ma (Sony). One extra advantage of these is that they do not use Rostropovich’s cadenza chosen here for the D major Allegro moderato, which ends in an anachronistic run of octaves, rendered here as a grotesque glissando. The CD also contains six and a half minutes of good spirits in the form of the charming overture to Lo speziale. Helen Wallace