Elgar, Britten, Walton

Li-Wei Qin (Cello)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Zhang Yi (Conductor)
ABC 481 1243

In this recording we find a stunning soloist, Li-Wei Qin who, from an early age, made huge strides in the concert world. Now 39, Qin is one of the world’s great cellists, who had lived and studied in Australia for a number of years after his family moved her from Shanghai, when he was 13 years of age.

Elgar Britten WaltonThis new release of works by English composers from the first half of the twentieth century, Elgar, Britten, and Walton, showcase a diverse range of compositional style.

Elgar’s famous and well-loved Cello Concerto has seen every acclaimed cellist add it into his or her repertoire list. Qin’s performance is complete, with his sublime artistic account and skillful technique.

Walton’s Cello Concerto, written in 1956, sets out a totally different structure for a concerto with its lyrical, moderately-paced first movement, a passionate, faster second movement, and a final movement, which is a Theme with Improvisations. Playing a 1780 Guadagnini cello, Qin adroitly traverses all the hills and dales of this work with alacrity, virtuosic mastery and poetic sensitivity.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes (a series of pieces from the opera Peter Grimes) under conductor Zhang Li, shows the exploration of evocative tone colours, contrasting melancholic and dramatic brass moments, brilliance of strings, and fluttering woodwinds (suggesting seagulls). This performance perfectly captures, in instrumental form, the drama within the seaside village and the interactions between its central characters.

Apart from this being a great recording to have in one’s collection, for the music teacher, there are many study purposes: it is great for HSC students in topics such as An Instrument and Its Repertoire, Music 1900-1945 (for the Elgar and Britten), Music 1945-1990 (Walton); as well, for more generalised music teaching, this disc provides opportunity to explore orchestration, tone colour, and structure.

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