Guy Johnston

Tecchler's Cello: From Cambridge to Rome

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Tecchler's Cello: From Cambridge to Rome Review

by James Manheim

This album is not, as might be supposed, the soundtrack to something, but rather the realization of a unique aim: Tecchler's cello is an instrument by the Roman builder David Tecchler, played by young British cellist Guy Johnston and celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2014. Johnston conceived the idea of commissioning new works as "gifts for the cello"; three such pieces are included here. Further, he traveled from Cambridge back to the cello's birthplace in Rome, making recordings in Cambridge, Paris, and Rome, of Beethoven, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, and Ottorino Respighi, respectively. The new commissions were distributed among these sessions and interspersed with the larger works. As may be seen, the result is a large variety of music with multiple main strands that are not necessarily in harmony with each other. The commissioned composers don't respond with similar concepts; David Matthews in his Ein Celloleben evokes different historical periods, while Charlotte Bray in Perseus uses the letters of Tecchler's name as a basis for thematic material, and Mark Simpson's Un Regalo maximally exploits the cello's technical capabilities. The program does not really hang together, but it's enjoyable at many individual points; sample the brilliant, quick opening movement of Beethoven's Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70, No. 1 ("Ghost"). Above all, the sound of Johnston's Tecchler cello is indeed distinctively rich, and you get a glimpse in the booklet notes of how a musician gets to know an extraordinary new instrument. A unique release, and a recommended one.

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