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Cantabile / Olivieri-Munroe, Gabetta, Prague Philharmonic


Release Date: 02/03/2009 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 735962   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Charles GounodJacques OffenbachGeorges BizetLéo Delibes,   ... 
Performer:  Sol GabettaMihaela Ursuleasa
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Sparkling and intelligent playing.

Cellist Sol Gabetta’s Cantabile collection is based on singable music with wonderful tunes from opera arias and songs mainly by popular composers. I was delighted by his 2005 Munich release that featured Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No. 1 in A minor with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester under Ari Rasilainen on RCA (c/w Tchaikovsky Andante cantabile, Pezzo Capriccioso, Nocturne, Ginastera Pampeana No. 2).

All but one of the tracks on Cantabile are arrangements for cello and orchestra prepared by Manfred Grafe. Billed as a bonus the final track is given in the arrangement for cello and piano by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The
Read more art of the arranger is long established. Before performances could be heard on record or broadcast the majority of music-lovers had access to orchestral and operatic scores only in pared down transcriptions. Their realm was the drawing room or salon. Prominent examples of the art include Franz Liszt for the piano, Heinrich Ernst for the violin and Alfredo Piatti for the cello. Liszt was the undisputed master making hundreds of transcriptions of songs, operas and symphonies. Liszt mainly championed the music of those contemporaries that were in vogue or he felt deserved attention. Transcribers, like Liszt with his Verdi and Schubert transcriptions, generally stayed as faithful as possible to the original. Some composers would often use a freer interpretive style with their chosen material. Verdi acknowledged the value of transcriptions as a way of disseminating his scores to a wider audience; serving to popularise his operatic melodies still further and advance his reputation.

Gabetta’s performances of these mainly sentimental and sugary transcriptions are for the sweet-toothed listener and are none the worse for that. I note that Classic FM have already placed this disc on their playlist. The scores are mainly transcriptions of late-Romantic operas. Long and memorable melodic lines are a consistent feature.

The first track on the disc is Je veux vivre. This gloriously interpreted waltz is probably the most famous aria in Gounod’s grand opera Roméo et Juliette. Of the two transcriptions taken from Jacques Offenbach’s opéra bouffe La Périchole I especially enjoyed Sol Gabetta’s foot-tapping interpretation of O mon cher amant, je te jure.

Georges Bizet’s opéra comique Carmen is a perennially popular staple of the repertoire. Gabetta’s Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante is something of a tear-jerker and Près des remparts de Séville comes across as confidently swaggering and steamily provocative. The aria on which it is based is where Carmen propositions Don José.

Léo Delibes’s song Les filles de Cadix was originally a bolero for voice and piano. Splendidly communicated the soloist confidently brings out the flamenco-infused rhythms. Connais-tu le pays, the air from Ambroise Thomas’s opéra comique Mignon has a particularly enchantingly melody. It represents Mignon’s precious childhood recollections of her home from where she was abducted. In this piece I noted the especially fine woodwind playing.

A master of melody, Tchaikovsky is represented by two scores. From the lyric opera Eugene Onegin nothing can match Gabetta’s enthralling playing. He vividly characterises the desperate passion of Lensky’s immaculately written aria Whither, Whither have you vanished? Inspired by the Auvergne region of France, Joseph Canteloube’s Chants d'Auvergne is a substantial set of folk songs for soprano voice and orchestra. The title of the particular song from the collection is not given in the annotation but this is certainly a warm and leisurely transcription.

A homage to J.S. Bach, Reynaldo Hahn’s song À Chloris, is taken from the second volume of his collection of Mélodies. Gabetta’s interpretation of the Hahn song is evocative of a bucolic idyll of shepherdesses and nymphs. Next comes a gloriously serene rendition of the Pavane, Gabriel Fauré’s stately and hauntingly beautiful score. At 0:45 I noticed what sounded like an untidy edit. Surely this couldn’t be a flaw in Sol Gabetta’s playing … could it?

Referred to as a ‘bonus’ track the final score on the disc is Figaro’s aria Largo al factotum from Rossini’s opera buffa Il barbiere di Siviglia. It differs from the other scores on this release in that it is not one of Manfred Grafe’s transcriptions for cello and orchestra but a transcription prepared by Castelnuovo-Tedesco for cello and piano, and recorded at a different location. Gabetta plays with confidence and vivacity in this imaginative Rossini arrangement complete with its exhilarating conclusion.

The release is let down by the ineffectual booklet notes that tell the reader virtually nothing about the music although it does mention arrangements of works that are not included. Composition dates are not provided; a task that took me only around ten minutes to find most of them. Can some one tell me why the final track Figaro’s aria, presented as a ‘bonus’ track, is a bonus? As the disc only lasts an ungenerous 53 minutes anyway, surely the label was not going to give even less playing time.

Private funding has given Gabetta the opportunity to play a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini cello from 1759. Although we are not told which cello is used on this release I was struck by the luxuriant and deep tone of the marvellous instrument. Sol Gabetta is one of those rare instrumentalists who can consistently communicate personality. Her sparkling and intelligent playing of these sweet and highly attractive cello transcriptions makes this an appealing acquisition that will provide enjoyment.

-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Roméo et Juliette: Je veux vivre dans le rêve "Waltz Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; France 
2.
La Périchole: Promptes a servir la pratique by Jacques Offenbach
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
3.
La Périchole: O mon cher amant, je te jure by Jacques Offenbach
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1874; Paris, France 
4.
Carmen: Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante "Micaëla's Aria" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
5.
Carmen: Près des ramparts de Seville "Seguidilla" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
6.
Les Filles de Cadiz "Chanson Espagnole" by Léo Delibes
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
7.
Mignon: Connais-tu le pays? by Ambroise Thomas
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; France 
8.
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24: Lensky's aria by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1879 
9.
Songs (6), Op. 6: no 6, None but the lonely heart by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Russia 
Notes: Listed on the album by the direct translation of the original title: "Only he who knows longing". 
10.
Chants d'Auvergne: Volume 3 - no 4, Brezairola by Joseph Canteloube
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1930; France 
Notes: This selection from Chants d'Auvergne is also known by the French title: Berceuse. 
11.
A Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; France 
12.
Pavane, Op. 50 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; France 
13.
Violettes impériales by Francis Lopez
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello)
Conductor:  Charles Olivieri-munroe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
14.
Il barbiere di Siviglia: Largo al factotum by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Sol Gabetta (Cello), Mihaela Ursuleasa (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Italy 
Notes: Bonus track 

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