Rota: Cello Concerto No. 1; Cello Concerto 2

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COMPOSERS: Rota
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Cello Concerto No. 1; Cello Concerto 2
PERFORMER: Dmitry Yablonsky (cello); I Virtuosi Italiani/Daniel Boico
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9892
Principally remembered for 80-odd film scores (including Coppola’s The Godfather) Nino Rota (1911-79) left a significant number of chamber, operatic, choral and orchestral works (several concertos and three symphonies), mostly set in an accessible neo-classical idiom. Branded by Italian critics as inattuale (‘irrelevant’) because of his reluctance to embrace the avant-garde fully, Rota remains largely unrecorded, so it’s good to be able to offer an enthusiastic welcome to world premiere accounts of his two cello concertos.

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Written in 1972-3, they’re outwardly similar in design and difficulty. Both place extreme technical demands on the soloist, but in Dmitry Yablonsky they have a dynamic, agile and keenly compelling advocate. Yablonsky brings terrifying verve to the finger-twisting diablerie of the finale of No. 1 especially, and fully explores a strand of irony and paradox that informs both works. The more challenging First Concerto calls for a fuller brass section; the more classically disposed Second needs just two horns in addition to the regular forces, and probably the most interesting music here comes in the big variation movement (over 13 minutes) of the latter. With accomplished solo playing and sensitive support from I Virtuosi Italiani and Daniel Boico, these concertos create a powerful impression. Michael Jameson