Gavriel Lipkind - Miniatures & Folklore
Gavriel Lipkind is a remarkable cellist. You'll be amazed, as I was, at his extraordinary expressive range, and share his delight in demonstrating such command over the instrument. The speed, precision and lightness of his Dance of the Elves give it a surreal, almost supernatural quality, and his bright, buoyant, apparently carefree account of the Prelude to Bach's Sixth Suite is just as noteworthy, in a very different way.
He's a thoughtful, creative artist, too; most of the repeated sections in the Bach are embellished, sometimes with conventional trills, appoggiaturas and divisions, occasionally with more radical melodic changes. The folk character of many items on the recital disc is emphasised, through abnormal tone production, to suggest oriental instruments, or by means of unusual effects involving pizzicato, percussion or, in one instance, voice. And it's just as memorable when he plays more conventionally - Bloch's Prayer, for instance, is touching in its restrained intensity.
It's inevitable that a performer of such marked individuality will occasionally fail to convince. I wasn't won over by Hora staccato as a cello piece, nor did I enjoy Kreisler's Tambourin chinois, decked out with sickly added double-stops, and taking almost twice as long to play as the composer needed. A Mendelssohn Song Without Words sounds lovely with cello but is spoilt by the mannered, elongated up-beats.
In the Bach there's a similar mixture of highs and lows. Most of the Courantes, for example, are excellent: full of spirit and momentum, and with a feeling that the music is constantly being renewed. But the Allemandes of Suites Nos 1, 5, and 6 are surely far too slow, and have little sense of pulse. There's a similar problem with the Sarabandes until No 5 which, though still leisurely, is inspiring in its poise and tonal quality. Another outstanding performance is of the Fourth Suite's Prelude - fast and light, with the semiquaver passages whizzing past, and with no feeling of effort or awkwardness.
I urge you, then, to listen to these lavishly presented CDs. You may be annoyed in places but you won't ever be bored, and I'm sure you'll often be delighted.