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Expressive Power

MIKE WHEELER listens to Natalie Clein
and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra


Like Jacqueline Du Pré, Natalie Clein seems to be identifying herself particularly with the Elgar Cello Concerto. Her interpretative approach, though, is very different, relying on understatement rather than heavy-duty emoting to get the music across. This was an enthralling performance, with Vernon Handley and the RLPO collaborating totally in exploring the work's quiet, inner recesses with a depth and concentration that was utterly gripping. Clein's technical command is remarkable, too -- in the scurrying repeated notes in the scherzo her bow seemed to be hardly moving, yet everything was clearly articulated.

The concert [8 February 2008, Assembly Rooms, Derby UK] began with The Garden of Fand by Bax, a composer Handley has more or less made his own. The opening sea music sparkled and glittered, and there were huge reserves of expressive power for the big moments at the centre of the work.

Vaughan Williams' Fifth Symphony got a warm, thoughtful reading which gave due weight to both the work's radiance and serenity and its more anxious passages. A fairly steady tempo for the scherzo paid off in terms not just of clarity but also in bringing out the faintly sinister undertones. The last movement began purposefully and fairly briskly, later broadening out with just the right degree of expansiveness, while the tranquil ending glowed with an almost tangible sense of fulfilment.

Copyright © 12 February 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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