Zuill Bailey / Martin West

Zuill Bailey: Russian Masterpieces for Cello and Orchestra

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Young American cellist Zuill Bailey makes his recording debut with this 2009 Telarc disc called Russian Masterpieces for Cello and Orchestra. Half the music is by Tchaikovsky -- his delightful Variations on a Rococo Theme, delectable Pezzo capriccio, and sensual Nocturne -- and the other half is a single piece, Shostakovich's robust and rousing First Cello Concerto. With his big tone, muscular technique, and charismatic interpretations, Bailey is clearly a major player. His Shostakovich concerto here is burly in the outer movements, soulful in the Moderato, and imposing in the Cadenza. His Tchaikovsky arguably has too much brawn and not enough delicacy in the Rococo Variations, perhaps too much whimsy and not enough wit in the Pezzo capriccio, and too much aggression in the Nocturne. But even with those caveats, Bailey is still well worth hearing by listeners who follow up-and-coming cellists. It should be added that Martin West and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra provide adequate if not inspired accompaniments and that Telarc provides clear, immediate digital sound.

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