Walton & Bloch / Cello Concerto and Schelomo / Piatigorsky – Reviewed in 2011

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This Super Hot Stamper RCA original White Dog pressing has a SUPERB side two. Piatigorsky’s cello sounds rich and resonant with virtually no trace of smear. All the subtleties of the bowing can be clearly heard, just as they would be in concert (assuming you sprang for the good seats). The recording venue is spacious and open. Above all the sound is relaxed and NATURAL.  

If only side one sounded this good…

Side One

Yes, side one is a drag. To parody Harry Pearson: No Hot Stamper, this.

It has a nice extended top but the whole frequency balance is shifted up, making it thin and pinching the upper mids. Solid A sound at most.

Side Two

Super Hot Stamper A++ sound, just lovely! It could even be better than that, but without more copies to audition we prefer to be conservative in our grading. It’s AT LEAST A++.cello

Wikipedia’s Entry

The Italian critic Guido Gatti wrote of Schelomo, “The violoncello, with its ample breadth of phrasing, now melodic and with moments of superb lyricism, now declamatory and with robustly dramatic lights and shades, lends itself to a reincarnation of Solomon in all his glory. The violoncello part is of so remarkably convincing and emotional power that it may be set down as a veritable masterpiece; not one passage, not a single beat, is inexpressive; the entire discourse of the soloist, vocal rather than instrumental, seems like musical expression intimately conjoined with the Talmudic prose.”

The first section of Schelomo opens with a rhapsodic lament in the solo cello leading into a cadenza in the low range of the instrument. The first section is thickly orchestrated and utilizes many extravagant tonal colors and effects including unresolved dissonances, exotic chord progressions, col legno in the strings, and bold brass statements. The first section ends with a powerful orchestral climax leading into the central section of the work.

The second theme is a rhythmic figure stated first by the bassoon and soon after by the oboe. The cello repeats the cadenza of the first theme while the second theme continues as a counter melody in the woodwinds and brass. The solo cello continues to reiterate the first theme but is overwhelmed by the swelling and increasingly frenzied orchestra.

The third section begins with material first presented in the first and second sections. A forceful orchestral climax gives way to a hushed, tense mood where the cello makes its final statement, ending on a resigned low D.

TRACK LISTING

Side One (Walton)

Cello Concerto

Side Two (Bloch)

Schelomo

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