The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto no.1 in A minor. Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme. Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor
Tuesday, 01 July 2008
Andreas Brantelid (cello) Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Michael Schønwandt (conductor)
Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky, Schumann
EMI Debut 2 13038 2
Twenty-year-old Swedish cellist Andreas Brantelid is already in the public eye after winning both the 2006 Eurovision Young Musicians Competition and the 2007 Paulo International Cello Competition. Now EMI is boosting his career still further with this disc in its Debut series.
The hallmarks of Brantelid’s style – a clear, pure line of sound, delicate phrasing and the lightest of portamentos, are all in evidence from the opening of the Saint-Saëns. Brantelid and Michael Schønwandt have a particularly good rapport, and keep the pace moving. The decision to play the start of the Allegretto without vibrato is a bold but effective one, with the passage coming over all the more hauntingly especially when high on the D string of Brantelid’s 1690 Giovanni Grancino cello. The Molto allegro’s octaves and harmonics ring out clearly and timing and fingerwork in the semiquaver runs are razor-sharp.
After a rather carefree Rococo theme, Brantelid varies his tone well to fit the character of Tchaikovsky’s variations, though occasionally the sound high on the A string when playing at full pelt is scratchy. A languid Variation no.6 cuts the vibrato again to good effect, while the spiccato chromatic descending run, easing into the charming melody in Variation no.4, is exquisitely done. Schumann’s concerto again is notable for the spare, understated tone – no big wide full-blown Romantic vibrato in this interpretation, but delicate figuration and an often inward-looking approach. The transition to the Langsam is very movingly done, and heralds some lightly sketched but ravishing playing. Balance is perfect, with the orchestral colours skilfully highlighted.
From the July 2008 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.