Veteran studio musician Steven Sharp Nelson stepped out of a backing role and into the forefront with Sacred Cello, his debut effort. Having performed on over 100 albums previous to this inaugural solo project, he displays a penchant for improvisation even underneath a surface of meticulous precision. Nelson shows a mastery of tempo and dynamic contrast that evokes a surprisingly strong amount of emotion, even with what could be considered a familiar track list to classicists. There are no real surprises in the core lineup of hymns, but a stylish variety of classical and traditional work adds a sparkling flourish to the set. Among others, his unaccompanied rendition of the Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G major employs a stirring rubato, while he commands a rhythmic bassline in Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. These departures from strict Sunday fare give the album a tremendous lift. Guitarist Peter Breinholt and solo pianists Jon Schmidt, Paul Cardall, David Tolk, and Marshall McDonald take turns serving as guest stars. They are merely icing on the cake, however; each in his own way complements the album's flavor, which ventures into new age, folk, inspirational, and classical. From start to finish, Sacred Cello is bright, solid, unique, and enchanting.
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AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson
|Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007|
|Cantata No. 147, "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben," BWV 147 (BC A174)|
|Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Introduction and 24 Variations), for piano & orchestra in A minor, Op. 43|