This is one hell of a performance of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto. Emmanuelle Bertrand and conductor Pascal Raphé team up to produce one of the most intense and neurotic versions yet of this intense and neurotic piece. In the outer movements, they adopt fleet tempos that emphasize the music’s twitchy edge, and the engineers daringly balance Bertrand a touch less forward then usual, comfortably within the ensemble. This highlights every mocking grunt and snort of the wind section – listen to the contrabassoon in the first movement’s second subject. It’s unforgettably vivid and to the point.
Famed for his inspired work with director Federico Fellini, Nino Rota was one of the most prolific and acclaimed film composers of his era, with a list of soundtrack credits ranging from La Dolce Vita to Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet to Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. Born December 3, 1911 in Milan. Italy, Rota was a child prodigy who had already written an opera and an oratorio prior to his fifteenth birthday; he subsequently studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia as well as the Liceo Musicale in Bari, where from 1950 to 1978 he served as director. In 1933 Rota first entered the Italian film industry, scoring the "white telephone" romances and musicals prevalent during the era; before 1950, he composed the music for some 30 features, as well as the operas Torquemada and The Florentine Straw Hat………All Music Guide
The Shostakovich concerto is a good choice, not just as a near contemporary of the Paganini Rhapsody, but as a bridge to the zany world of Lutoslawski. It receives a fluent, well-judged and idiomatic performance with every note in place and some lovely trumpet playing from Raymond Simmons.