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International Record Review
Jean-Guihen Queyras - Dvorak
Jean-Guihen Queyras is a fine cellist, fluent technically and gifted with a flexibility of tone that can range from a warm richness to a resiny tang and sweetness in the upper registers into which both Dvorak an Elgar take him. Both composers were adept at scoring for cello with orchestra, a notorious problem solved in these works in a rich variety of ways, and indeed with Tchaikovsky especially a stimulus invention.
Elgar's concerto is played in tragic vein, with an almost numbed opening for the cello and with the long, lilting melody that follows sounding almost like an elegy. Valid as this approach is, when handled with such thougtful musicianship, there is a loss of the lighter, of the wistful or almost rueful atmosphere which pervades this music of Elgar's twiling years, whose ambiguity is part of its character. The speed at the start is eight to ten metronome markings slower than Elgar's, and though the metronome shoud never be more than advisory, and never rigidly maintained, this indicates the nature of the approach. The Adagio is gravely and beautifully playing, with a true balance between soloist and the other strings (there is virtually no wind intervention, mostly occasional clarinet and bassoon enrichening). The finale is vehement, at times almost severe, something which does seemto lie within music that is not as joyful as it seems at first glance. Elgar's wonderful ear for textures is respected by a recording that seems only slightly over-weighted with the strenth of the bass in the opening pages. Elsewhere, Jiri Belohlavek, himself once a cellist, is particularlysensitive to the instrument's needs and concerns.
Dvorak two charming morsels are lightly and elegantly played, as are Tchaikovsky's Variations. This is done in the Fitzenhagen version, wich Queyras prefers to the original taht Tchaikovsky never bothered ta assert. What he actually did, when shown the version thath Fitzenhagen had rather peremptorily revised, was wave the whole matter aside with an ampatient "To the devil with it, let it stay as it is". Both versions have their merits. Fitzenhagen's is perhaps rather tauter than the original - if that is what is wanted from a relaxed set of variations. Queyras does it all elegantly, with a nice simple opening statement, and particularly fine playing in the Andante sostenuto (Variation No.3) with the cello melody set against flutes and clarinets chiming in triplets over the remaining strings' pizzicato. It is a colourful and entertaining performance, with the scrupulous care for the textures part of the decorative nature of the music.

John Warrack