Zuill Bailey / Krzysztof Urbański / Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Elgar: Cello Concerto

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Zuill Bailey's live performance of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto with Krzysztof Urbanksi and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is a passionate and expansive reading, but the sound of the recording isn't up to the high standards of the playing. Bailey is fairly closely miked and the front-and-center placement makes it hard to miss the cello part, so it's possible to appreciate this rendition without straining. However, the orchestra seems recessed and subdued in the mix, making the accompaniment a bit hazy around the edges and indistinct at soft levels. Yet Bailey's stirring playing provides a focal point that holds the listener's attention, so the overall sound quality of this recording may be a secondary concern for fans of this charismatic star. The rest of the program is filled with three selections from Bedrich Smetana's tone poem cycle, Má Vlast (My Fatherland), which, when taken together, are longer than the Elgar performance by nine minutes. The presentation of the orchestra is generally clearer here, though the instrumental blend is rather thick and homogenized, and the playing lacks crispness and clarity in the highly resonant acoustics.

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