REVIEWS:  divine art dda 25002 A Celebration of Cellos


A disc of unknown music for three and (mostly) four cellos may not seem among the most obvious proposals for inclusion on your must-buy list of CDs, but this one simply demands to be heard and enjoyed, in the same deep glow of warm contentment as comes from a glass of Laphroaig taken in a leather chair in front of a roaring log fire on a winter evening. One might imagine that the sound of cello ensemble might pall when extended over an hour, but not a bit of it; the repertoire has been skilfully chosen to show off the sheer richness of the sound of a cello quartet, and this listener has played the disc again and again with enchantment growing apace on each occasion.

That repertoire will require some explanation; Enrico Mainardi and Joaquin Rodrigo are the only names here you are likely to recognise, though I have to admit that this gentle, achingly lovely Notturno is the first piece of Mainardi’s I recall hearing, and Rodrigo’s Dos Piezas is hardly the best explored corner of his catalog……Marie Dare was..plainly capable of a delicate melodic line and some beautiful harmonies – the Elegie, for example, is a moving exercise in emotional restraint. The Quartet for Cellos by Nigel Don is similarly discreet, though with a hint of warm humor. And the Serenade by Anita Hewitt-Jones and the three-cello Rumba of Michael Norris are easygoing miniatures of little weight but considerable charm. All in all, a most endearing disc.
Martin Anderson

Music for multiple cellos is a genre mostly practised by cellist - composers who appreciate the remarkable sonority of the medium. I have spent some happy times exploring the genre with colleagues. Here is an esoteric collection of mainly 20 th century works, beginning with the 18 th century Giacobbe Basevi Cervetto, whose opus 1 consists of six cello trios. 2 in B-flat is an attractive piece where the upper two lines are the soloists, the bottom a basso continuo, played without keyboard continuo in this performance.

Walther Aeschbacher (1901-69) was a Swiss cellist-conductor-composer. His suite of 1941 has the resonant sonority characteristic of the medium and an imaginative use of romantic harmony and counterpoint. Enrico Mainardi (1897-1976) was a famous cellist. His Notturno is a richly sonorous work. Joaquin Rodrigo is represented by a little-known pair of miniatures, well contrasted in style and technique.

Cello Spice is a Scottish group, and the rest of the program is by Scottish composers. First is a comprehensive collection by composer-cellist Marie Dare (1902-76). For those interested, a collection of her works for cello and piano is on ASV6245. Her music is meditative and evokes her country in a beautiful way. Then comes a 1992 Quartet by Nigel Don (b.1954), a romantic and occasionally witty work. Anita Hewitt-Jones (b.1926) writes a sweet and sunny Spanish Serenade, and the program closes with Michael Norris (b.1934) whose “Rumba” was originally for three bassoons. Though the music and the performances are generally low-key, this is a most attractive and unusual collection