Sol Gabetta

Vasks: Presence

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The cellist Sol Gabetta is emerging as a major star of her instrument, with equal facility in repertory concertos, chamber music, and contemporary composition. Here, in an album marking the 70th birthday of Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, she offers a gorgeous take on Eastern European minimalism. The album is compiled from a pair of session sets, and although carefully mastered the sonic joints are audible. You can see why Sony Classical wanted the final work included, though: the best is saved for last with Gramata Cellam, an early work that really sounds like neither of Vasks' two influences, Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt. The two movements of this solo cello work fall into a strong contrast that sets him apart from those two composers, and the cries of pain and the vocal passage in the work are also extremely unusual. The other two pieces, a sizable Cello Concerto No. 2 and a little nocturne for cello and organ, are more tonal, and you might add Samuel Barber to the list of composers evoked. Gabetta shines in both, holding the listener rapt through the music's long lines. Music of an underrated composer, played with passion by a rapidly rising young instrumentalist: it doesn't get much better than this.

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