Matt Haimovitz / Stefan Sanderling / Orchestre de Bretagne

Haydn: The Cello Concertos; Mozart: Cello Concerto

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For its energetic performances of Haydn's two Cello Concertos, this live recording by cellist Matt Haimovitz and the Orchestre de Bretagne, under Stefan Sanderling, is a decent offering, though not ideal because of its unnecessarily harsh sound quality, due to upfront miking. The volume needs to be somewhat reduced to appreciate the intended effect of Haimovitz's playing -- which is robust and confident -- without being irritated by the resin-like scraping that always comes with close-up recording. But most listeners who already have a cherished CD of Haydn's concertos will skip ahead anyway to hear what Haimovitz does in the world-premiere recording of Mozart's Cello Concerto in D major (rather, the arrangement by George Szell of two movements from the Oboe Concerto in C major, K. 314, and the Andante, K. 470). While the music itself is unchanged in all other respects, the transposition an octave lower for the solo cello puts it in the same range as the harmonic voices in the strings, and this placement tends to absorb its distinctive edge. In terms of sound quality, this recording is less abrasive than the Haydn renditions, though its somewhat muffled tone is not especially desirable, either. In consideration of the problematic reproduction, this CD is acceptable, but not recommended as a first choice, even with the Mozart/Szell offering.

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