The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto no.1 op.107. Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme op.33
Tuesday, 01 December 2009
Kim Cook (cello) Volgograd Symphony Orchestra/Edward Serov
MSR Classics MS 1289
This CD of tried and tested repertoire offers precious few musical insights and at 50 minutes duration represents rather poor value. The Shostakovich is particularly disappointing, suffering from a lacklustre recording with a rather limited dynamic range and also hampered by raw orchestral playing in which the tuning of the all-important horn in the opening Allegretto sounds rather sour. Although Kim Cook dispatches the solo part with technical finesse, there is little tension between soloist and orchestra and as the movement proceeds the musical argument sounds increasingly flaccid. In the second movement Cook presents the icy harmonics in a rather neutral and anodyne manner, and the cadenza fails to build up a real head of steam. The finale is more convincing, with Cook delivering the tricky cascading scales particularly effectively.
Fortunately the Tchaikovsky fares a little better. The technical components of the solo part are carefully rehearsed and impressively executed, yet Cook fails to bring sufficient shape and dynamic refinement to the phrases and the performance as a whole seems accomplished rather than inspired.
From the December 2009 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.