Natalie Clein / Charles Owen

The Romantic Cello

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Armed with a warm but wan tone and a supple but not especially strong technique, English cellist Natalie Clein's saving grace in this 2006 coupling cello works of Chopin and Rachmaninov is her passionate interpretations of the music. Thus, while her tone runs the limited gamut between smooth and sleek and her technique ranges from the more than capable to the less than virtuosic, Clein's interpretations of these Romantic masterpieces is entirely persuasive. Her Chopin sonata has a lyrical, singing quality that makes clear the composer's kinship with the bel canto operas of Bellini while her Rachmaninov sonata has an ardent, aching quality that makes plain the composer's engagement with the late Russian Romantic tradition. But while Clein's competent performance of Chopin's technically imposing Polonaise Brilliante is merely acceptable, her hot-blooded performance of Rachmaninov's fervently sensual Vocalise is quite effective. Mention should also be made of Charles Owen, Clein's accompanist, who supports her with unstinting selflessness and of Andrew Keener, Clein's producer, who puts as much of the focus as technically possible on her. While these things may diminish the overall sense of two musicians performing together, it does show Clein's talents in the best possible light.

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