SHOSTAKOVICH: Concerto For Cello No. 1 The Art Of Carlos Prieto

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Shostakovich And The Art Of Carlos Prieto

Originally published in In Tune Magazine, by Heuwell Tircuit

SHOSTAKOVICH: Concerto for Cello No. 1 in Eb, op. 107. Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor, op. 40'. op. 33. Herrera de la Fuente conducting the Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa; Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria; Carlos Prieto, cello; Doris Stevenson, piano'. O.M. RECORDS CD80176 [DDD]; 70:57. Produced by Jonathan Wearn.

THE ART OF CARLOS PRIETO. Carlos Prieto, cello; Doris Stevenson, piano. O.M. RECORDS CD80175 [DDD]; 72:40. Produced by Jonathan Wearn. (Distributed by Albany.)
RACHMANINOV: Vocalise, Op. 34, no. 14. BOCCHERINI: Sonata in A. FAURT: Elegy, op. 24. TCHAIKOVSKY: Pezzo Capriccioso, op. 62. MARTINU: Sonata No. 2 for Cello and Piano. BACH: Suite No. 6 for Unaccomponled Cello, BWV 1022.

Both of these discs feature some very fine music-making. Mexican cellist Carlos Prieto has at least two things going for him; he is a passionately spontaneous artist, and he doesn't sound like a cow in distress when he plays double-stops (his tone is truly rich and pleasing). He also has wide interests, as these two releases indicate.

Prieto's Shostakovich concerto holds its own very well amidst stiff competition. The first movement sounds appropriately neurotic, while the second moves at a gratefully flowing tempo that allows its heartfelt lyricism to blossom. The long, unaccompanied cadenza is altemately meditative and ferocious, while the finale makes all of its sardonic points. The sonata, one of this composers least troubled works, is equally well done. But the highlight of this disc must be the performance of the Saint-Saens. Recorded live, but before a very quiet audience, this is a vivid, totally exuberant act of musical communication captured in thrillingly realistic sound. Don't let the relative unfamiliarity of the artists (or the slightly less than outstanding orchestral contribution in both concertos) put you off-this performance is special.

The recital disc, as with the Shostakovich sonata, finds Prieto ably partnered by pianist Doris Stevenson. The highlight of the program (for me at least) is the Martin'u, a wonderful and littleknown work full of this composer's customary blend of tension and syncopated cantabile. On the evidence of his playing here, Prieto should tum to the two Martinu' concertos for his instrument without delay. The Bach suite also makes a strong impression. In fact, this recital really makes a very satisfying whole, and I find myself paying greater attention to those pieces that usually come in sets (such as the Bach and Martin'u) since the contrasts between them stimulate rather than anaesthetize the ear. The smaller pieces have all the requisite charm and elegance, making this one of the finer chamber recitals to come my way in recent memory. Sound and balances, whether between soloist and orchestra, or piano, are uniformly outstanding.

David Hurwitz

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