Dvorak’s Cello Concerto should still be a “fairly new” addition to Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s live performance repertoire, because the 21-year-old cellist acknowledged in a pre-performance interview, however it’s already clocked up some severe mileage.
Performances with the Oxford and Liverpool Philharmonics in addition to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra have all helped mattress in a piece that now soars with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
It’s a pure match. Dvorak’s concerto is big-hearted and beneficiant, infused with tune. Kanneh-Mason’s vibrant, labile sound feels launched in a piece which – even within the lowered orchestration used right here – provides him loads of scope. Certainly a recording can’t be far off?
A lot of the power of this concerto comes from the interaction between soloists – horn, flute, oboe – and the cello. Glad to play the chamber musician, Kanneh-Mason relishes these moments, stepping again within the Adagio to sketch a ruminative counter-melody whereas Brabbins guides the woodwind take the highlight, matching the horn for shiny, legato heat within the opening Allegro.
There’s nonetheless loads of bravura. If the cruelly demanding double-stopped passages aren’t but completely clear, there’s a declarative certainty and path to the finale and a thick legato within the gradual motion that set the tone for a particular interpretation filled with cautious element.
Framing the Dvorak are works by two residing composers. Just like the drifting melody of Dvorak’s Adagio, August Reed-Thomas’s Plea for Peace was initially composed for voice. The wordless vocalise was later tailored for devices, handed amongst flute, oboe and trumpet. It’s an association that loses among the directness of the title’s “plea” (the work was initially commissioned to mark the anniversary of nuclear fission) however on this delicate account from the BBCSSO positive aspects a way of a collective assertion: quiet, slow-evolving sounds of super magnificence warning of the darkness that usually lurks, worms-like, within the centre of chords.
It’s a distinction to the kaleidoscopic exercise and invention of James MacMillan’s Tryst. An early work, premiered in 1989, it’s each busier and extra insistent in its calls for than the Scottish composer’s current music. Echoes of Stravinsky, Gershwin and extra ricochet via its 5 contrasting sections, however that is no pastiche – simply an exuberant, high-wire show of youthful expertise dispatched right here with soloistic glee.
Streaming on BBC iPlayer till 8 April 2021