Tchaikovsky • Glazunov • Sibelius • Saint-Saens • Dvorak, Fauré • Bruch

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak; Fauré; Bruch; Glazunov; Saint-Saens; Sibelius; Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Finlandia
ALBUM TITLE: Cello Cantabile
WORKS: Works by Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Sibelius, Saint-Saëns, Dvor?ák, Fauré & Bruch
PERFORMER: Arto Noras (cello); Kuopio SO/Markus Lehtinen
CATALOGUE NO: 2564-60344-2

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At first sight this looks like an issue for cellists and fanciers of that noble instrument. In fact, there is much here for the non-specialist. Nearly all the pieces are well known from concert hall and recording. The chief rarities are the orchestral arrangements of Sibelius’s Cantique and Devotion, which also exist in versions for violin. Although written at the same time as the Fifth Symphony, the Cantique looks both forward, to the Seventh Symphony and Tapiola, and backward, to the Swan of Tuonela; and while it bears the subtitle ‘Rejoice my soul’, the joy feels very much an inward experience. Slightly more wide-ranging in mood, Devotion, subtitled ‘From the depths of the soul’, again shows anticipations of the Seventh Symphony. Arto Noras is a passionate advocate of all the repertoire on the CD, but perhaps is most successful in making a case for the more frequent performance of the Sibelius pieces. Although much of the disc showcases music that is on the slow side, Noras is certainly up to the brisker virtuoso challenges of Saint-Saëns’s Allegro appassionato. Understandably, the cello is very much centre stage and, though well recorded, has a slight tendency to mask details of the orchestral accompaniment.

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Jan Smaczny