Karl Davidov: Cello Concertos 1 & 2; 3 Salon Pieces; At the Fountain; Berceuse-Romance

Marina Tarasova / Davydov Symphony Orchestra

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Karl Davidov: Cello Concertos 1 & 2; 3 Salon Pieces; At the Fountain; Berceuse-Romance Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Karl Davidov was heralded by none other than Tchaikovsky as being the greatest cellist of the 19th century. High praise to be sure, but other accounts of his playing prowess back up Tchaikovsky's assertion. The incredible technical demands in his original compositions for his instrument further demonstrate the remarkable technique that the so-called father of the Russian cello school must have possessed. This alto disc features the first two (out of a total of four) cello concertos, as well as five shorter character pieces. Neither of the concertos is particularly "Russian-sounding," but do indeed put the instrument and performer through their paces. Like many of his Russian colleagues, Davidov was not only a pyrotechnic technician but a master of melody that this program amply demonstrates. Performing is cellist Marina Tarasova, along with the Davydov Symphony Orchestra and pianist Alexander Polezhaev. While Davidov may not have been the quintessential Russian composer, Tarasova absolutely possesses the archetypal Russian cello sound passed down from Davidov himself. She plays deep in the string with an intense, almost frenetic vibrato that demands listeners' attention. Like Davidov, Tarasova is a remarkably skilled technical performer, tossing off even the most demanding passages as if just playing scales. She is equally capable of producing long, singing lines and soaring musical phrases. Listeners not familiar with Davidov's compositions apart from the perennially favored At the Fountain will certainly enjoy this contribution.

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