Kabalevsky/Khachaturian/Rachmaninov

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COMPOSERS: Kabalevsky/Khachaturian/Rachmaninov
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Cello Concerto No. 2; Cello Concerto in E minor; Vocalise, Op. 34/14
PERFORMER: Mats Lidström (cello); Gothenburg SO/Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-719 DDD
Mats Lidström is that rare thing, an original musician. The sheer mercurial energy which drives his performances can be both engaging and disturbing, but there is always a searching intelligence at work. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra lost much when its compelling, if unpredictable, lead cellist departed. These two concertos show him at his persuasive best, bringing lesser known works to life.

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Kabalevsky’s 1964 Concerto stretches and yawns with slow pizzicato before springing into urgent life. Sub-Shostakovich in its motifs and tonality, it is nevertheless well-constructed and uses the saxophone to great effect.

In both Allegro movements Lidström achieves a lightning speed and attack and, though Raphael Wallfisch’s recording on Nimbus has a more solid beauty of tone, the Swede’s nervous anticipation makes up for the thinner sound of his Grancino cello.

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Khachaturian’s 1946 Concerto would make a wonderful soundtrack to a cinematic faux-Oriental extravaganza, with its twisting major and minor intervals, and almost sleazy chromaticism. Lidström really knows how to swing, and makes the most of the memorable melodies. He also knows how to understate Rachmaninov’s poignant Vocalise to greatest effect. A most enjoyable disc all round. Helen Wallace