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Disc review: 'Reinecke Cello Concerto' by Samis & Gateway Chamber Orchestra

The piece on this disc by Osvaldo Golijov, “Mariel,” might be of special interest to Buffalo.

Last September, at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening gala, cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma played Golijov’s “Azul,” a few nights before he played the piece with the New York Philharmonic.

“Azul” featured the marimba and so does “Mariel.” I recall “Azul” as abstract but kind of fun thanks to Yo-Yo Ma, who with his energy and charm could sell you on anything.

On a CD, Golijov’s music is not nearly as alluring. He makes clever use of percussion, but that can’t be that difficult, and he chooses convenient themes (for “Azul,” he conveyed frogs and insects and other Jurassic things). Though Samis seems a fine cellist, “Mariel” offers little to engage the listener.

Please keep in mind that other people apparently hear things in this music I do not: The Metropolitan Opera has commissioned a Golijov opera, “Iphigenia in Aulis.” The rest of the disc is a mixed bag. The centerpiece is the Cello Concerto in D Minor by the underappreciated Romantic composer Carl Reinecke. I like Reinecke and I liked this concerto’s lush, mournful themes.

There is also the Suite No. 1 for cello solo by Ernest Bloch, well played, and Sir John Tavener’s “Threnos” for solo cello, which like most music for solo stringed instruments is tough going. Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro Op. 70, orchestrated by Ernest Ansermet, quotes from Schumann songs and is utterly lovely. ΩΩΩ (M.K.G.)

Reinecke Cello Concerto, and music by Schumann, Bloch, Tavener and Golijov performed by cellist Michael Samis, The Gateway Chamber Orchestra, Gregory Wolynec, conductor (Delos)
3 stars

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