Stephen Framil / Paul Freeman

Haydn: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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After a rather rocky ride through history -- from being lost for some two centuries, to being ascribed to several other composers -- the two Haydn cello concertos have secured their rightful place as cornerstones of the repertoire. As such, they have both been extensively recorded, offering listeners a wide variety of album choices ranging from the sublime to the disappointing. This Centaur album, featuring cellist Stephen Framil, lies unfortunately at the lower end of that continuum. Given Framil's impressive credentials and broad performance experience, his playing of the Haydn concertos is decidedly mediocre. His playing is generally rigid with a lack of flowing lines, little connection between string crossings, and no sense that one note should lead elegantly to the next. The outer movements of both concertos, particularly the Allegro molto finale of the First Concerto, are pedantically slow and tentative. Even the joyous, lilting A theme of the Rondo in the D major concerto fails to spring to life. Technical aspects of Framil's playing also fall short; intonation is far from solid, particularly in the extensive double-stops in the D major concerto, and overall sound production is weak, hesitant, and lacking in confidence. With so many vastly superior recordings available, Framil gives listeners no compelling reasons to choose this subpar contribution.

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