Colour­ful con­cer­tos with a touch of shock and awe

Cel­list Edgar Moreau and Raphaël Mer­lin’s band are a force to be reck­oned with, says Bayan North­cott

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

Gulda • Of­fen­bach

Of­fen­bach: Cello Con­certo (Con­certo Mil­i­taire); Gulda: Con­certo for Cello, Wind Or­ches­tra and Band Edgar Moreau (cello); Les Forces Ma­jeures/raphaël Mer­lin Erato 9029552612 73:36 mins Only just 25 this year, Paris-born Edgar Moreau is ev­i­dently a cel­list of ex­cep­tional gifts with a vi­brant di­rect­ness of de­liv­ery, ab­so­lute se­cu­rity of tone and in­to­na­tion in all reg­is­ters and a con­cen­trated in­tent­ness in his play­ing that riv­ets the at­ten­tion. Whether he also com­mands ex­cep­tional depths of ex­pres­sion is hard to judge from the works on this record­ing, since they de­mand none.

Be­fore he be­came the so-called ‘Mozart of the Champs-elysées’, Jac­ques Of­fen­bach (1819-1880) was a vir­tu­oso cel­list him­self, and his sprawl­ing 42-minute Grand Con­certo is a show-off piece: more a med­ley of jaunty or soul­ful tunes – none of them as mem­o­rable as his op­erettas – than a sym­phonic struc­ture. Still, it is hard to imag­ine it bet­ter done than by Moreau, vividly sup­ported by Raphaël Mer­lin’s re­cently founded young

Moreau is a cel­list of ex­cep­tional gifts with a vi­brant di­rect­ness

or­ches­tral col­lec­tive Les Forces Ma­jeures, recorded with real pres­ence – if oc­ca­sion­ally qual­i­fied by a faint whistling res­o­nance from source un­known.

Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000) was one of post­war Vi­enna’s most renowned clas­si­cal pi­anists, and teacher of Martha Arg­erich. But he was also a mav­er­ick who moon­lighted in jazz, or­gan­ised raves and com­posed co­pi­ously in a mad mix of styles. The five move­ments of his cello con­certo have in­no­cent enough ti­tles such as ‘Idyll’ and ‘Menuett’ but teeter un­pre­dictably be­tween clas­si­cal pas­tiche, mild mod­ernism, rock-funk, Ty­rolean sen­ti­men­tal­ity and vul­gar marches. Moreau shapes the more se­ri­ous cen­tral ca­denza im­pres­sively, but, of the fun move­ments, one does wonder, once the shocks have worn off, what it all amounts to?

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★

Hear ex­tracts from this record­ing and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Mu­sic Mag­a­zine web­site at www.clas­si­cal-mu­sic.com

Riv­et­ing dis­play: Edgar Moreau is com­mand­ing

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