Soulful rendition of Russian music

This album should have been called Russian Romantic Cello Concertos, as the composers featured were major figures of Russia's age of Romantic music. Of these, only two works actually qualify to be called concertos: Piotr Tchaikovsky's popular Variations On A Rococo Theme (1877) and Alexander Glazunov's rarely heard Concerto Ballata (1931).

Chinese-Australian cellist Qin Li-Wei, now based in Singapore, has previously recorded the Tchaikovsky.

He gives a heartrending account filled with depth of feeling and intensity, not to mention his warm and glorious tone. This is continued in Tchaikovsky's brief single-movement Pezzo Capriccioso (1887) and the famous Andante Cantabile from his First String Quartet (1871).

Despite its date of composition, the Glazunov is a total anachronism, sounding like a work composed 50 years earlier. Even with Qin's ardent advocacy, the work is nowhere as memorable as his popular Violin Concerto. The gifted melodist does, however, shine in shorter works such as the Two Pieces (1887-1888) and Chant Du Menestrel (Minstrel's Song, 1900). Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's light-hearted Serenade (1893) completes the programme.


  • CLASSICAL RUSSIAN CELLO CONCERTOS

    Li-Wei Qin, Cello

    Czech Chamber Philharmonic/ Michael Halasz

    Naxos 8.573860
    4.5 Stars

All's the pity that Qin does not get accompanied by a better orchestra than the chamber orchestra from the Czech town of Pardubice.

It does a credible job, but this delectable music deserves more. So hear Qin's Tchaikovsky when he performs it with Singapore's re:Sound at Victoria Concert Hall tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline 'Soulful rendition of Russian music'. Print Edition | Subscribe