Classical Review: August 17

Prokofiev and Britten: Cello Symphonies.
Prokofiev and Britten: Cello Symphonies.
Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts the Cologne orchestra in two works for cello and orchestra, both having been written with the legendary Russian soloist Mstislav Rostropovich as their inspirational force.

The Symphony for Cello and Orchestra was the first major work after the Cello Sonata (1961) that Britten was inspired to compose after the ailing Rostropovich wrote to him in 1962 claiming only ''the doctor in Aldeburgh'' could bring him ''back to life by composing a brilliant cello concerto''.

In 1947 (Britten then aged 20), his performance of Prokofiev's Cello Concerto Op.58 was praised by the composer and that led to revisions that culminated in the great Symphony Concerto Op. 125 also featured here.

As Rostropovich's former pupil, the German cellist Muller-Schott is well-qualified to follow in his master's steps and be featured in this pair of expressionist works, both linked by a rejection of traditional formal principles and wealth of musical colours.

He plays brilliantly on the ''Ex Shapiro'' Matteo Goffriller cello, made in Venice in 1727, producing plush gorgeous tones, with fearless fire and exuberance when needed.

He displays dazzling agility and technique with ease, and must be ranked as one of the world's best cellists of the present generation, making this music so fresh and exciting.

The orchestra assists very capably in a well-recorded disc, showing excellent balance and fine detail.

Muller-Schott has now recorded all the major cello works of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, in addition to the complete Britten cycle in this composer's centenary year.

Highlight: Spectacular fireworks in cello's highest register brings the Prokofiev to a close.


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