BBC Music Magazine - - Concerto Reviews -

Shostakovich: Cello Con­certo No. 1; plus works by Hadar, Sain­tSaëns, Casals, Of­fen­bach, etc.

Sheku Kan­neh-ma­son, Guy John­ston (cello); City of Birm­ing­ham Sym­phony Orches­tra/mirga Gražinytė-tyla Decca 483 2948 64:21 mins Sheku Kan­nehMa­son cap­tured the hearts and minds of the Bri­tish pub­lic after his stun­ning suc­cess at the 2016 BBC Young Mu­si­cian com­pe­ti­tion. This de­but re­lease gives us a broad over­view of his un­doubted gifts in a var­ied and stylis­ti­cally eclec­tic recital which en­com­passes at­trac­tive ar­range­ments of Klezmer and Reg­gae as well as Leonard Co­hen’s Hal­lelu­jah. The ubiq­ui­tous ‘Swan’ from Saint-saëns’s Car­ni­val of the An­i­mals also makes an ap­pear­ance, though I don’t much care for Tom Hodge’s sac­cha­rine tran­scrip­tion for mul­ti­ple cel­los and harp.

A cen­tral theme of the disc hails the con­tri­bu­tion of three ex­tra­or­di­nary cel­lists. Pablo Casals is hon­oured with two ex­pres­sively per­formed minia­tures ( Song of the Birds and Sar­dana), and there is a par­tic­u­larly touch­ing trib­ute to the late Jac­que­line du Pré in a warmly played ar­range­ment of Of­fen­bach’s Jac­que­line’s Tears. But the main meat in the pro­gramme pays homage to Rostropovich, aptly fea­tur­ing Shostakovich’s First Cello Con­certo, the work which Kan­neh-ma­son per­formed to such ac­claim in the fi­nal round of the com­pe­ti­tion. The com­mit­ted and tech­ni­cally as­sured per­for­mance here ben­e­fits greatly from the tightly knit part­ner­ship with the CBSO un­der Mirga Gražinyte-tyla. The strengths of Kan­neh-ma­son’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion are most ap­par­ent in the slow move­ment where he sus­tains the long lyri­cal lines with great ex­pres­siv­ity, although the tempo is surely too slow for Shostakovich’s pre­scribed Moder­ato mark­ing. In the faster move­ments, Kan­nehMa­son de­liv­ers suit­ably punchy ar­tic­u­la­tion and there are some par­tic­u­larly in­ci­sive con­tri­bu­tions from horn and tim­pani. But his char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the main the­matic ma­te­rial could be more tor­mented and malev­o­lent. Erik Levi PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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