French cellist Gastinel has, for most of the last decade, been steadily amassing a discography that could well serve as a primer on the most essential compositions for her instrument. To that catalog, she now adds two dense and dramatic pieces by Elgar and Barber that amply demonstrate both the range of her instrument and the dexterity with which she employs it. Gastinel has never shied away from contemporary works, but always keeps a toehold in the past; the beautiful neo-Romanticism of both of these 20th-century pieces is just her forte. From the fiery opening of Elgar's concerto (originally debuted by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1920; it's the CBSO that accompanies Gastinel here) through the resolution of the disparate threads that concludes Barber's more aggressive concerto, Gastinel's confident and sumptuous playing links these two pieces together beautifully.
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