Raphael Wallfisch / William Boughton

20th Century Works for Cello & Strings

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With a theme like Twentieth Century Works for Cello & Strings, the possibilities of music to program are quite extensive. Cellist Raphael Wallfisch and the Sudwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim under William Boughton selected a broad swath of repertoire ranging from familiar composers like Hindemith and Lutoslawski while simultaneously exposing listeners to composers and compositions that are infrequently, if ever, heard. Although all of the works heard on this Nimbus Records CD are completely accessible to any level of listener, they can still fall victim if not performed with the utmost attention to ensemble and intonation. Wallfisch delivers on these necessities in abundance, and even the most technically demanding passages are tossed off with confidence and apparent ease. The same level of precision cannot be universally claimed for the orchestral accompaniment. The performance is highly inconsistent and erratic from track to track. Fast or rhythmically complex passages are executed sloppily; at times, even the most tonal sections meet with unacceptably sloppy intonation. Nimbus' recorded sound quality is very weak, requiring the volume to really be cranked up to hear everything that's going on. Even then, the string orchestra's sound often overwhelms the solo cello. While this album certainly gives cello aficionados welcome introductions to some unfamiliar pieces, the mediocre performance does not make it suitable to casual listeners.

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