shostakovich • Tchaikovsky
Concerto No. 1 Op. 107 , Variations on a Rococo Theme, Pezzo capriccioso, Op. 62, Nocturne in D minor, Op. 19, No. 4
Zuill Bailey, Martin West, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
Telarc CD-80724

A release of two halves from cellist Zuill Bailey.

As Tchaikovsky neared completion of his Rococo Variations for the German cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, he gave a copy of the unpublished score to Fitzenhagen so that his dedicatee could check to make sure his cello writing was idiomatic. Fitzenhagen went a lot further and much to the composer’s chagrin, rewrote and reordered substantial amounts of the work. This, however, quickly became the accepted performing version. (Tchaikovsky’s original was not published until 1941.)

It is the Fitzenhagen version that Israeli cellist Zuill Bailey has chosen to perform for this recording. Bailey is an excellent cellist with a solid technique who takes a straightforward view of this work that is, for the most part, highly successful. Only occasionally does the performance waiver, as in Variation 9, which would benefit from a much lighter touch. The Pezzo capriccioso and Nocturne in D minor (Tchaikovsky’s transcription of his Op. 19 Nocturne for piano) both receive workman-like performances.

Shostakovich wrote his 1st Cello Concerto for cellist Mstislav Rostropovich who both debuted and recorded it in 1959 – this time with the composer’s approval! Unfortunately, Bailey’s approach to this concerto is much less successful; where Rostropovich’s larger-than-life personality takes Shostakovich’s myriad of ideas and styles and moulds them into a seamless whole, Bailey’s performance is stilted, disjointed and ultimately disappointing.

Worth considering for the Tchaikovsky only.  

Copyright © Limelight Magazine. All rights reserved

What are your thoughts on this article? Have your say and leave your comments below.
NOTE: You must be a registered member of Limelight to post a comment.
Click here to login | Click here to register
Please read our guidelines on commenting. Offending posts will be removed and your access may be suspended. Abusive or obscene language will not be tolerated. The comments below do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Limelight or its employees.
Russian Masterpieces (cello: Zuill Bailey; San Francisco Ballet Orchestra/West)
3 out of 5
Current Issue
May 2014 issue on sale now!
What's On
Close Get the May 2014 issue of Limelight mailed to you for $8.50, including postage.

Buy now
Digital Version