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Concerto! - Steven Isserlis Plays Saint-Saëns


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1. Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 33: Allegro non troppo
2. Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 33: Menuet
3. Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 33: Finale
4. Carnival Of The Animals: The Swan. Fron Carnival of Animals
5. Romance, Op.51
6. Romance, Op.36
7. Sonata No. 1 For Cello And Piano, Op. 32: Allgero
8. Sonata No. 1 For Cello And Piano, Op. 32: Andante tranquillo sostenuto
9. Sonata No. 1 For Cello And Piano, Op. 32: Allegro moderato
10. Chante saphique, Op.91
11. Gavotte, Op.posth
12. Allegro appasionatio, Op.43
13. Prayer, Op.158

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding recording 12 May 2003
By "musicgirls" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I came across Mr. Isserlis' version of the Saint-Saens when it was played on the local radio station. After hearing Yo-Yo Ma and Janos Starker play this piece, I firmly believe that Mr. Isserlis plays this concerto better than either of the other two. There is something in Isserlis' playing that simply sets him apart from other cellists, an integrity and understanding in his performance that is refreshing. If you buy any recording of the Saint-Saens, this should be the one.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Excellent recording! 30 Mar. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I can't reccommend this recording enough. I first heard Steven Isserlis on this CD (now I know that everything he has ever recorded is worth listening to) and his playing is always absolutely beautiful. Also, Michael Tilson Thomas is a terrific conductor. The other selections are great, and display Saint-Saens' versatility as a composer. This is one to buy, because you will want to listen to it again and again.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
First part of Isserlis' excellent Saint-Saens collection 4 Oct. 2011
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The outstanding English cellist Steven Isserlis released two BMG collections of cello music by Camille Saint-Saens in the mid-90s, one devoted to his music written mostly after 1900 and this one, with one exception, consisting of music from the 1870s and 80s. Both discs are very fine. If I had to highlight one work from the set as a "must hear", it is the 1910 "The Muse and the Poet" for violin, cello and orchestra, a little-known gem included in the second volume. The first volume, under review here, is very good as well and I'd say overall more consistent in quality.

Isserlis leads off with the best-known of Saint-Saens' cello works, the 1st cello concerto (1872), done with the London Symphony led by Michael Tilson Thomas. This piece can easily become vulgar and overblown but Isserlis and Tilson Thomas take a more subdued approach that I like very much. The concerto's attractive melodies, concise construction and interesting development of themes is foregrounded and make for a very satisfying rendition. The other big work included here is the 1st cello sonata, written simultaneously with the 1st concerto in 1872. The sonata consists of two stormy outer-movements with a Baroque-influenced middle one. Unfamiliar with this work prior to buying this recording, I have very much enjoyed getting to know it. Isserlis is joined by a regular partner, the terrific French pianist Pascal Devoyon, for a very strong performance. It's interesting to note that the middle movements of both of these works are "neoclassical" (they borrow stylistically from the 18th century) and the disc also contains a highly attractive Gavotte for cello and piano, likewise neoclassical. The disc has a bonbon third track, "The Swan" from the "Carnival of the Animals" done with Dudley Moore, famous actor and accomplished pianist, whom I still remember for his maudlin but affecting piano solo in "Ten." The rest of the disc contains shorter works, including a pretty Romance (Op. 36, track 6). One of Isserlis' side ventures is rediscovering the lost repertory for cello and organ, and so the disc closes with a reverb-filled recording of a late composition, the "Prayer" (1919) for these two instruments, which I liked.

Isserlis is simply a wonderful performer and he propels the disc with his awesome tone and inspired musicianship. Sonics are very good. I think you will very much enjoy this outstanding release.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Saint-Saens: greatness without shaking the foundations 26 April 2012
By RJAdams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Although I prefer Isserlis' disc with Saint-Saens Concerto no 2 and Sonata no. 2 for musical substance and think that this cerebral and tonally opulent cellist is especially superb at opening our ears to the non-warhorse repertoire, this disc also gets five stars. No question that other renowned cellists (Du Pre, Ma, Rostropovich) also play the first concerto with passion, excitement, and virtuosity, so Isserlis in this top ten hit of the cello is not alone at the summit.

Where Isserlis excels is in his programming. His inclusion of other important works for cello by Saint-Saens is tremendous added value. Saint-Saens is perhaps underrated as a "great" composer. But Isserlis shows the composer's greatness differs from those who plumb the depths of the human condition (e.g., Beethoven, Bach, or Mahler). His greatness comes not from epic struggle but from contact with the surfaces of music and life: melodic fluency, mastery of form, and warmth of expression. Indeed, we discover this by beholding all the compositions on the disc. His mastery of form to beguile and entertain comes to many as a welcome respite from a steady diet of the sublime, the serious, and ceaseless striving that characterize much of the musical art of Europe from 1725 to today. His style reminds me of travel writing. It is pleasurable, witty, observant, catholic in perspective, graced with local atmosphere, and yes, sometimes reflects strange encounters with the mystery of existence, but then life moves along. Anyway, in his music he is well traveled and gives us delightful accounts of his journeys.

Isserlis is a great traveling companion but unlike the other disc is not our enlightening travel guide in the written notes. Sound and accompaniments are first rate if not audiophile.
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