WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Cello Fiesta! / Hecker, Kharadze, Kremerata Baltica

Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 8031   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Vaja AzarashviliFranz Joseph HaydnPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyAlberto Ginastera,   ... 
Performer:  Giorgi KharadzeMarie-Elisabeth Hecker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CELLO FIESTA! Kremerata Baltica; Marie Elisabeth Hecker (vc); 1 Giorgi Kharadze (vc); 2 Andrei Bielow (vn); 3 Agne Doveikaite (vn); 3 Daniil Grishin (va); 3 Andrei Pushkarev (perc) 4 PROFIL 8031 (68:09)

Read more class="COMPOSER12">HAYDN Cello Concerto No. 1 in C. 1 TCHAIKOVSKY Pezzo capriccioso. 2 AZARASHVILI Cello Concerto. 2 GINASTERA Glosses on Themes of Pau Casals. 2,3 COREA (arr. Pushkarev) La fiesta 1,2,4

This absolutely delightful disc combines classical works of three centuries with a jazz piece originally written by Chick Corea for his first (and best) “Return to Forever” album. It’s difficult to tell from Gidon Kremer’s liner notes—understandably enthusiastic but not entirely informative—if this CD, the result of concerts given by cellists Hecker and Kharadze with guest string-players and Kremer’s own excellent Kremerata Baltica orchestra, was planned specifically for this album or if the concerts ran in this sequence. It’s not a major point, to be sure, but I’m just curious to know because the unusual programming may have actually been more unusual in concert; nor am I entirely sure if both cellists played all the concerts that inspired the recording. I will say this, however: I wish there were more CDs like this, records made by evidently inspired artists, hot off the concert circuit, with this music coursing through their veins and still electrically charged.

From the first notes of the Haydn Concerto in C you’re aware that this is truly an event, not just another stale run-through of the music. Hecker, whose tone is lean and bright, is the perfect interpreter for this work, and both she and the orchestra are quite obviously having a ball. Compare it to other recorded versions? Not likely. No matter how much more finesse or little differences you might hear in, say, the recordings of Jacqueline du Pré, Pierre Fournier, or Lynn Harrell, this one is just so full of zest that it’s in its own little pocket universe. A fully satisfying reading; nothing is left to chance here.

Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo capriccioso may not be one of the composer’s most inspired works—he wrote it in one week while worrying about the deteriorating health of his good friend, Nikolai Kondratyev, and was disparaging about it to his publisher—but you’d never know it from the completely committed performance given here by Giorgi Kharadze, a cellist with an astoundingly dark tone. Perhaps because his tone is so dark and thick, he cheats a little in his fast passages, placing the bow on the very edge of the strings, which diminishes its quality somewhat (a technique that is acceptable nowadays but not entirely to my liking), but this is a tiny complaint and not meant to denigrate an obviously passionate and committed artist. (Compare to Rostropovich with Benjamin Britten and the English Chamber Orchestra on BBC Legends.) Small wonder that Kremer is enthusiastic about this young man, or that he gets the lion’s share of this disc. Following the Tchaikovsky, Kharadze is also heard in the highly imaginative Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra by the Georgian composer Vaja Azarashvili. This is the only available recording. Composed in 1970, it begins with slow music inspired by folk music, then moves into a rapid second subject with strong, pounding rhythms similar to those of Stravinsky, before which the cello plays brusque yet virtuosic runs. A solo cadenza leads us without pause again to the final section, which repeats the elegiac atmosphere of the opening.

Ginastera’s Glosses on themes of Pau Casals was a work new to me, but a language and a dialect that was quite familiar, as I’ve long been a fan of his Harp Concerto and his opera Bomarzo. Written in five fairly brief movements, the music is based on musical material written by Casals, who was a longtime friend of the composer. The introduction starts with a very lyrical melody taken from Casals’s Oracio a la verge de Montserrat (1959), but is quickly interrupted by rapid atonal flurries of strings. This alternation of material continues throughout the movement. The second movement, titled “Romanç,” is appropriately wistful in tone, while the fiery, rhythmically complex “Sardanes” and the lyrical “Cant” use Catalan folk tunes as their base. The suite concludes with a delirious, ecstatic, but completely original evocation of Catalonia. Here, Kharadze is more of a chamber player, blending into the string quintet, which plays both with and against the string orchestra, though with spot solos. Of the two competing versions available, by the Berlin Symphony (Chandos) and Lyon National Orchestra (Naïve), the latter comes close, but this one almost has the excitement of a live performance.

The album wraps up with a piece I’ve loved for years, Chick Corea’s La fiesta, featuring both cellists. On the original “Return to Forever” album, it was played as a sort of energetic finale to his lovely rhythmic ballad Sometime Ago , sung by Brazilian artist Flora Purim. I miss that part of it because the transition from the ballad to the uptempo 6/8 of La fiesta was almost as magical as Beethoven’s transition from the second to the third movement of the “Waldstein” Sonata. (No, I’m not comparing Corea to Beethoven; I’m just making a comparison in how both of them handled a transition from a haunting lyrical theme to an energetic, dance-like one.) I was a little worried in advance that these classical musicians wouldn’t have the right swagger for this piece. I shouldn’t have worried. Though their interpretation is, of course, more classical in feeling, their sense of rhythm is simply marvelous. Arranger and percussionist Andrei Pushkarev helps matters by having the basses play not in classical pizzicato style but more like jazz bassists, with a slight rhythmic push on the first and fourth beats of each measure. A Spanish folk tune is used as introduction and occasional interlude. It works!

Kremerata Baltica plays splendidly throughout the entire disc. The sound quality is completely natural and crisp as a new dollar bill. Grab this one before it disappears.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra by Vaja Azarashvili
Performer:  Giorgi Kharadze (Cello), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 13 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Pezzo capriccioso for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 62 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Giorgi Kharadze (Cello), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
Length: 6 Minutes 26 Secs. 
La Fiesta by Chick Corea
Performer:  Giorgi Kharadze (Cello), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Length: 6 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Andrei Pushkarev. 
Concerto for Cello no 1 in C major, H 7b no 1 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Giorgi Kharadze (Cello), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: Classical 
Written: circa 1761-1765; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Glosses sobre temes de Pau Casals, Op. 46 by Alberto Ginastera
Performer:  Giorgi Kharadze (Cello), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kremerata Baltica
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; Argentina 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title