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SOL GABETTA - LIVE / The Strad review

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Sol Gabetta's vividly recorded live performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic offers a weightier reading than her earlier studio release on RCA with Mario Venzago (reviewed in September 2010). A strong depiction of nostalgia underlies this interpretation, giving some of the reflective moments more depth, but maintaining the sparkling, fleet-of-foot delivery in the faster movements. Occasionally the sense of flow is marginally impaired; for example, the slower tempo adopted by Rattle for the first movement makes the lilting simplicity in the 9/8 metre of the opening viola melody sound more laboured. On the other hand, this approach enhances the underlying sense of post-World War I melancholy and loss inherent in the music. Similar issues are evident in the Adagio, where the pauses between the phrases are perhaps a little too long. Yet if one views this work as reflecting Elgar's painful farewell to the golden days of pre-war society, such fragmentation seems far more apposite.