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Buy or despair

The Rastrelli cello quartet, reviewed by ALICE McVEIGH

Ars Verona    TonArt 9625

Rastrelli Cello Quartett Volume 2. © 2004 Rastrelli Cello Quartett

When Keith asked me to review a CD I thought: frankly, can't be fussed.

Then I thought: hang on, a cello quartet, eh? Fact is, I love cello quartets. I even had one, back in the 80s, though we got a bit discouraged when, after a couple of South Banks, we approached a top background music agent, who said, 'Lovely but lugubrious. Forget weddings. Have you tried any of the big funeral chains?'

Three out of four of these Rastrellis were born in St Petersburg, but it was in Stuttgart, a couple of years ago, that they first got together. Technically accomplished enough to remind me of the twelve cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic, whose mass cello recordings have sold very well, this foursome is extremely musical, wonderfully well-balanced, and completely unfunereal. The record is largely jazz (Dave Brubeck, Gershwin, Piazzolla [listen -- track 6, 0:01-1:37]) starring some very cleverly written arrangements. If the four cellists sometimes sound, en masse, as if they'd be even more palatable, taken separately, in the Dvorák or Elgar cello concerti, that is not to downplay the brilliance of their execution. It's just that they sound almost too well-rehearsed for this kind of repertoire: Russian passion meeting Germanic scintillation not quite equalling true jazz.

Still, it is a great thrill to me, personally, to hear a cello quartet this excellent. I defy any other instrument to sound this good, by itself, in quartet set-up, and each of the four cello voices is at once perfectly distinct yet wonderfully blended [listen -- track 15, 0:00-1:17].

If you are a cellist, buy it. If you are not a cellist, despair.

Copyright © 29 October 2004 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK


Rastrelli Cello Quartett Volume 2

TonArt 9625 Stereo NEW RELEASE 59'36" 2004 Rastrelli Cello Quartett

Rastrelli Cello Quartett: Kira Kraftzoff; Sergio Drabkine; Mischa Degtjareff; Kirill Timofejeff

Jimmy Forest: Night Train; Dave Brubeck: Far more Blue; Dave Brubeck: Blue Rondo a la Turk; Erroll Garner: Misty; George Gershwin: Fragment from 'Porgy and Bess'; Astor Piazzolla: Milonga del Angel; Ivan Zwonarev: Dreams; Paul Desmond: Take Five; Leroy Anderson: The Waltzing Cat; Matvei Blanter: John Gray; Isaak Schwarz: Elegie; Mordechai Ben-David: Le Shana Haba'a with Hassidic Walzer; Traditional Jewish: Firn di mekhutonim aheym; Uzi Hitman: Adon Olam; Traditional Jewish: Fröhlicher Schneider



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews