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Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations; Et Al / Sepec, Wispelwey


Release Date: 09/11/2001 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 16501   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyCamille Saint-SaënsMax Bruch
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey
Conductor:  Daniel Sepec
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Shapely and elegant accounts of works for which Pieter Wispelwey displays a keen stylistic affinity and that he performs with his customary dash and élan—not that one would not have liked to hear him in meatier fare than this, particularly where Saint-Saèns's First Cello Concerto in A Minor is concerned. Wispelwey gives a thoroughly creditable performance, which in its many felicities of detailing and studiously modulated tonal refinement suggests that he might have even more to say ' about the seldom played (and vastly more difficult) Second Concerto, recorded so memorably bv Steven Isserlis and Christoph Eschenbach for RCA.

Wispelwey's Saint-Saèns First is beautifully done nonetheless, and it's good to
Read more find more and more cellists opting to play this intimately transparent work with chamber-orchestra accompaniment. In this, Wispelwey is fortunate to have the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Bremen in support, and it would be hard to contemplate more attentive or fastidious collaboration. This pays superb dividends in the minuet movement that lies at the heart of this concerto, where the orchestral textures have just the right gossamer delicacy and fluidity. Nor is there any loss of weight in big tuttis, the one just before the final coda being particularly massive. Wispelwey's performance is a fine one, although it never attains the cumulative dramatic thrust and motoric exhilaration realized by Yo-Yo Ma with the French National Orchestra under Lorin Maazel (Sony), but it's a splendidly concentrated and completely persuasive reading nonetheless.

Pieter Wispelwey's version of the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations is another matter entirely, and reveals the finest attributes of this artist to useful advantage in a performance that's as keenly nuanced and compelling without becoming self-indulgent as you'd imagine possible. It is, therefore, the complete obverse of the famous Rostropovich/Karajan version (DG Legends), and maybe it takes a "peri-odist-generalist" performer (as Wispelwey is described in his biography) to convince us that this isn't a Romantic work in the proper sense but the same kind of Tchaikovskian Classical retrospective as the Mozartiana suite, for instance. Anyway, here's an exceedingly fine performance, imbued with a sense of architectural integrity (you can actually sense that the variations are metrically as well as the-matically connected for a change!) backed up by solid musicianship and fearless technique.

Somewhat less compelling is the ubiquitous Andante cantabile—it has been done and overdone so many times that it takes a lot to say much new about the piece, and, frankly, Wispelwey doesn't offer any novel insights despite playing it beautifully. Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei receives an intelligent reading that is never too free in its more rhapsodic utterances to cause overall rhythmic control to lose focus, and Wispelwey is always very strong in this regard. And if others draw more emotional variety from the piece, that's probably less important than actually keeping faith with the fact that its several themes are in fact all closely related. A very good disc in most respects, though there are certainly more dramatic and visceral explorations of the First Saint-Saëns Concerto, but probably rather fewer accounts of the Rococo Variations that are as pleasing as this. Assured orchestral support and seductive sonics complete a satisfying package from Wispelwey.

-- Michael Jameson, FANFARE [11/2001]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo theme, Op. 33 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Conductor:  Daniel Sepec
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
2.
Concerto for Cello no 1 in A minor, Op. 33 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Conductor:  Daniel Sepec
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
3.
Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 47 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Conductor:  Daniel Sepec
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Liverpool, England 
4.
Andante cantabile for Cello and Strings, Op. 11 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello)
Conductor:  Daniel Sepec
Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1886-88; Russia 

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