Cello Serenade

Ross Harbaugh

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Cello Serenade Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Often characterized as one of the more vocal in nature of the string instruments, the melancholy soulfulness that the cello is capable of producing is ideal for an album of serenades. Cellist Ross Harbaugh has selected a series of 17 such cantabile short pieces for this 2009 self-produced disc. Harbaugh draws on composers ranging from J.S. Bach to Verdi, from Glazunov to Bloch. The majority of the program was not originally composed for the cello, but consists of commonly heard transcriptions. Harbaugh's playing is technically solid in general, although a few intonation blemishes do pop up from time to time. His recorded sound quality is rather close and sterile, sometimes lacking in depth and variety of color. The danger with Harbaugh's program is the multiple similarly themed pieces all sounding the same by the time a listener gets halfway through the disc. Regrettably, Harbaugh falls into this trap. Despite a wide variety of composers being represented, there's little difference to be detected in how Harbaugh approaches Bach and how he approaches Bloch. The addition at track 10 of the Allegro con Spirito from Eccles' G minor Sonata breaks things up nicely, but otherwise the lack of variety in both performance and composition may become somewhat tedious to some listeners.

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