Five LYRICAL Stars! This is a marvelous cello & orchestra performance! Cello virtuoso Han-na Chang has been one of the leading cellists in the world since her development following her breakout win, by unanimous vote, at age of 11 in the Mstislav Rostropovich International Cello Competition (two awards no less) over a decade ago, and this latest CD should only add to her international fame. She had her recording debut personally overseen and conducted by cello maestro Rostropovich himself, and has won subsequent awards and Grammy nominations for her later recordings. In this recording, we find Ms Chang diving head first into some unusual but beautiful Romantic Period works by well-known and not so well-known composers. Playing with the vaunted Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Antonio Pappano in Rome, Italy, these are truly wonderful performances.
The 'Pieces De Resistance', the best of the best, begin with the Edouard Lalo's "Cello Concerto in D minor" and the astounding 12-minute interpretation of the "Prelude (Lento)": a searing, 'goose-bump raising' performance that goes from the heights to the depths of emotions. The main theme is truly a thing of beauty that ripples wonderfully from the blazing bow of Ms Chang and from this talented orchestra. This is a performance, along with the excellent Spanish-influenced folk and dance movements of this particular concerto (especially the "Introduction" movement), that is truly worth the price of the CD all by itself. Alexander Glazunov's beautiful "Melodie" with it's ethereal rolling harmonies and almost oriental-sounding theme has a brilliant Ms. Chang who plays like a driven dervish. These two composers works deserve to be heard more, as does the excellent, dramatic Dvorak "Rondo". The first movement of Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1 in D Major was so popular, the composer decided to give it a life of it's own as the beautiful, mournful "Andante Cantabile" for cello & orchestra and Ms Chang and the Orchestra give it a wonderful, nuanced rendering with it's dramatic pauses. Camille Saint-Saens' "Allegro appassionato" gets a sumptuous performance of his short but musically dense four minute work by Ms Chang and company. In fact, all performances are outstanding, including the soaring Pablo Casals "El Cant Dels Ocells" (Song of the Birds) piece. For this CD, Han-na Chang and Antonio Pappano "were keen to focus on music that has been neglected in the past", and for that we should be grateful, musically and historically. Kudos to them for challenging themselves and giving the listener a rewarding experience. My Highest Recommendation. Five WONDERFUL Stars!