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Cello, Celli!
Dave BRUBECK (b.1920)
Elegy [7:45]
J.S. BACH (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No.6 [16:02]
God’s Love Made Visible [3:28]
Cello, Celli! [11:25]
The Desert and the Parched Land [4:29]
Jesus Christ! Je t’implore [2:57]
Brandenburg Concerto No.3 [11:49]
Regret [7:11]
The Yale Cellos/Aldo Parisot
rec. Morse Recital Hall, Sprague Memorial Hall, The School of Music, Yale University, Connecticut, 1-5 April, 2004. DDD
NAXOS 8.557816 [65:10]

Anyone would be forgiven for a double take when seeing this disc for the first time; Bach and Brubeck on the same record and everything arranged for twenty cellos alone! However, it works wonderfully well and though at first sight it may only hold an appeal for cello enthusiasts I’m sure that like me others will find it a rewarding listen. I always find transcriptions interesting though they rarely convince me that they are an improvement on the original. These transcriptions of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 6 are interesting as they point up the timeless nature of Bach’s wonderfully rich and inventive writing. Jesus Christ Je t’implore sounds perfectly at home being played by no less than twenty cellos.
Dave Brubeck, who studied with Darius Milhaud, has written many classical works, including two ballets, an oratorio, four cantatas and a mass. The works on this disc were all written for other instruments apart from Cello, Celli written for a Paris Cello ensemble. Brubeck stipulated that his son Matthew, a former student of Aldo Parisot, should be the improvising soloist. However, with the arts budget in France having been cut at the time it was never performed until another student of Parisot asked him if he’d ever written for a cello ensemble. It was finally performed by her and the Cleveland Cello Ensemble. All his pieces are full of his gifts for composition and originality. “Regret”, the final work on the disc, Brubeck described as “a sweet sadness, longing for lost moments, might-have beens, and a past that cannot be re-lived”. I cannot imagine he has too much to regret as he has had an extremely rewarding career in every way. The piece, in any case, has been taken up by such disparate groups as The London Symphony Orchestra, The Russian National Orchestra and The Chattanooga Choral Society using only vowel sounds and the word Regret. Brubeck was delighted when he heard the cello ensemble recorded here performing this work. He described it as an “unforgettable experience”. I trust he felt it was a counterbalance to the feelings he expresses in the music.
Once again Naxos has gone where other record companies might fear to tread and thus we can explore repertoire we might otherwise never get to hear.
Steve Arloff

see also review by Tim Perry


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