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Sinfini Music
Recording the Elgar Concerto is always a major statement for a cellist, and the Canadian-born French soloist Jean-Guihen Queyras is no exception as his account joins the E section on the already buckling shelf. Undeterred by others’ famous recordings, though, he presents very much his own view of this much-loved work.

Queyras probes the concerto’s melancholy extremes without indulging in histrionics, sometimes whispering his pianissimos virtually without vibrato (admittedly this effect is rather on-trend at present, but he makes it relatively convincing). The BBCSO, much on home turf, seem in their element, with Bělohlávek striking a good balance and leading a rounded, focused interpretation.

The performers find an ideal bridge from Britain towards Russia in two short works full of Dvořák’s gentle Czech wistfulness, before launching into the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations – which, if anything, succeeds even better than the Elgar. Queyras has apparently detected ‘a fascinating mirror effect’ in this programme, by which each composer is ‘playing on contrasts to elucidate his intentions’. With cellist and orchestra alike focusing on the notion of contrast, the results are suitably lively and colourful. The total impression not only sparkles with virtuosity but engages us with crucial charm, and and that vivid yet not overstated individuality.

Jessica Duchen - sinfinimusic.com