Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
BBC Music Magazine (07/2019)
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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Berta Joncus

In this recording, the virtuoso Phoebe Carrai joins Beiliang Zhu to probe the art of London’s forgotten cello masters. The programme and its execution are equally superb, as Carrai and Zhu roll out one worldpremiere recording after another.

Their selection of cello masters amounts to an argument that competition breeds innovation. Giorgio Antoniotti (1692-1776) was a path-breaking theorist, Giacobbe Basevi Cervetto (c1682-1783) was London’s first celebrity cellist, Salvatore Lanzetti (1710-80) soon rivalled him, and Giovanni Battista Cirri (17241808) took up pleasure garden concerts, playing in London alongside the child Mozart. With turf to win, these men took risks, as Carrai and Zhu gorgeously illuminate. Playing continuo and solo lines respectively, they show how Antoniotti often fused the two; they also heighten Antoniotti’s contrasts by having harpsichord and lute, who join Carrai on continuo, thrust-and-retreat within the texture. In Cervetto’s operatic divertimento, Carrai and Zhu find their inner divas, building their duet to an impish, voice-chasing climax. In Lanzetti’s A minor Sonata, Carrai forges an intense meditation out of the composer’s intricate bowings and extended range, causing me to wonder why this work isn’t a staple. To end their programme, Zhu and Carrai again duet, using Cirri’s string-crossing daring to showcase their own wit.

Infusing this project are two ingredients rare in glitzy big-name recordings: the soloists’ long friendship (Zhu studied with Carrai) and their trust in non-canonical music. Too bad the liner notes are just hot air; these unknown works deserve a presentation in words as informed as their performance, which is music for the soul.

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