Steven Isserlis – Re-Visions (2010)
SACD Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 58:11 minutes | Digital Booklet | 2,58 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Digital Booklet | 995 MB
Features Stereo & Multichannel Surround Sound | BIS Records # BIS-SACD-1782
Cellist Steven Isserlis once again displays his ingenuity and innovation in programming on this 2010 release combining four works for cello and orchestra that wouldn’t even exist without him: all arrangements were made at his personal request, each one by the arranger of his personal choice. The most radical reworking is the opening selection, based on a suite composed for cello and orchestra by a 19-year-old Debussy, which only survived in a version for cello and piano. In her imaginative reconstruction of, or rather replacement for, Debussy’s original composition, Sally Beamish uses the piece as the opening movement, going on to construct orchestral arrangements of four other Debussy works from the same period. Isserlis also includes revisions of two Ravel songs, Prokofiev’s incomplete Concertino and Ernest Bloch’s From Jewish Life, ending with the movement entitled Prayer. Throughout the fascinating programme, Isserlis is backed by the Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy.
British cellist Steven Isserlis points out that the four composers represented on this disc have a number of things in common – they were born within 30 years of each other, had nationalist tendencies, and all lived at some point in Paris – but the major unifying theme is the fact that Isserlis commissioned all these arrangements of pieces that had originally existed in other formats. The circumstances of the creation of each of the arrangements are fascinating and sometimes moving, and the results are so attractive that they could easily enter the limited repertoire of works for cello and chamber orchestra. To call British composer Sally Beamish’s Suite pour violoncelle et orchestre a reconstruction is a bit of a stretch, since only one movement of Claude Debussy’s very early work survives, but the addition of four other pieces, one for cello and piano, two piano works, and a song, makes for a lovely and cohesive suite. Maurice Ravel’s Deux mélodies hébraïques exists in versions for voice and piano, and voice and orchestra, but Richard Tognetti’s idiomatic arrangement for cello, harp, and strings makes a persuasive case for the substitution of the cello for voice. Christopher Palmer’s version of Ernest Bloch’s From Jewish Life for cello and piano is soulfully and exquisitely expressive. Sergey Prokofiev left his Concertino for cello and orchestra incomplete at his death, and Dmitry Kabalevsky was called in to finish and orchestrate it. Isserlis always objected to Kabalevsky’s version, which he considered loud and clunky, so he asked Vladimir Blok for a new version, which Blok completed on his deathbed. The new arrangement incurred the ire of Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom Prokofiev wrote the work, but it is undeniably an appealing version, transparent and quirkily inventive. Isserlis performs with the impeccable technique and interpretive sensitivity for which he is known; this is an absolutely secure and emotionally resonant performance and should delight fans of the cello. Gábor Takács-Nagy leads the Tapiola Sinfonietta in a luminous and heartfelt accompaniment. The sound of BIS’ SACD is clean and very present. It’s sometimes even possible to hear Isserlis’ strings hitting the fingerboard, but rather than being a distraction, it contributes to a sense of intimacy that beautifully suits the character of this new repertoire.
01. Debussy: Suite pour Violoncelle et Orchestre – Prélude (Intermezzo)
02. Debussy: Suite pour Violoncelle et Orchestre – Rêverie
03. Debussy: Suite pour Violoncelle et Orchestre – Scherzo
04. Debussy: Suite pour Violoncelle et Orchestre – Nocturne
05. Debussy: Suite pour Violoncelle et Orchestre – Danse bohémienne
06. Ravel: Deux mélodies hébraïques – Kaddish
07. Ravel: Deux mélodies hébraïques – L’énigme éternelle
08. Prokofiev: Concertino for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op.132 – Andante mosso
09. Prokofiev: Concertino for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op.132 – Andante
10. Prokofiev: Concertino for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op.132 – Allegretto
11. Bloch: From Jewish Life – Jewish Song
12. Bloch: From Jewish Life – Supplication
13. Bloch: From Jewish Life – Prayer
Steven Isserlis – cello
Gábor Takács-Nagy – conductor
Produced by Jens Braun. Engineered by Marion Schwebel.
Recorded in November 2009 at the Tapiola Concert Hall, Finland.
Editing: Christian Starke. Mixing: Marion Schwebel & Jens Braun.