Ashley Sandor Sidon

Concert Gems for Violoncello

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On her album Concert Gems for Violoncello, cellist Ashley Sandor Sidon has selected eight short works for cello with either piano or guitar, which she feels are neglected masterworks that enhance the instrument's repertoire. Five of the eight works featured are in fact transcriptions that cellists often include in recital programs. The program ranges from the French Baroque (Couperin) up through the minimalist Arvo Pärt. Character pieces lie at the heart of the program -- the Spanish soulfulness of Granados, the austere elegance of Couperin, the Jewish yearning of Bloch, and the Latin fire of Piazzolla -- and is rounded out by Handel's D major Violin Sonata and Monti's best-known work, Czárdás. While there are number of colors, textures, sentiments across Sidon's program, her playing reflects little to none of it. From start to finish, Sidon comes across as merely reading through one score after another with limited differentiation between composers of vastly different styles and periods. What's more, her playing is not especially technically solid, making it sound tentative and hesitant. Intonation is sometimes spotty, and tempo selection is often rather slow. All of this combines to make an album that becomes very boring, very quickly. With so much variety in her program, just a touch of it in her playing would have gone a long way.

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