Natalie Clein

Bloch: Suites for Solo Cello; Dallapiccola: Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio; Ligeti: Sonata for Solo Cello

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The music on this release by Natalie Clein is both diverse and unfamiliar, but no work for solo cello can escape the towering models by Bach. That lends the program a satisfying unity. The three suites for solo cello of Ernest Bloch were written in the U.S. for a Canadian cellist in the 1950s, shortly before the composer's death. They are recognizably by the composer of Schelomo, but where the melodies in that work expand, the ones here break off; each suite consists of several short movements, very short ones in the case of the Suite No. 3 of 1957. Sample that work, which is elliptical yet passionate. The Dallapiccola and Ligeti works that round out the program are very much of the post-World War II period, with post-Romantic languages pushed to the breaking point. The Ligeti is an early work with some striking melodic passages. Clein wrings these for maximum effect, and in general she brings effective readings to a varied program. She's not an explosive cellist, but everything works here, and for bringing the Bloch suites back from the edge of oblivion she deserves praise: these are works that ought to become standard features of recitals and music-school programs. They're compact, they ask interpretive intelligence from the player, and they're utterly distinctive.

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