SAINT-SAËNS; TCHAIKOVSKY Works for Cello & Orchestra
From the very first bars of Saint-Saëns’s First Cello Concerto you sense that this disc is going to be exhilarating and rewarding. The performers launch the concerto with terrific passion and positive intent, and thereafter call into play a discriminating, captivating spectrum of interpretative sensibility. The solo playing is astonishingly mature not merely in its technical attributes but also in its warmth, brilliance and subtlety of colour and inflection, so it comes as a shock to realise that Stéphane Tétreault is 19 years old. His is a name to watch.
Let’s not forget the first-rate support from the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec under Fabien Gabel, who bring their own power, polished phrasing and finesse to the music, but it is difficult not to be attracted particularly by what the young Tétreault does here. Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme is played with uncommon poise, discreet and poignant lyrical allure as well as the lustre the piece needs. The lovely orchestral flutes in the third variation attest to the care with which Gabel approaches the score. They do the Fitzenhagen version, so the Variations ends with thrilling joie de vivre, but that does not overshadow the eloquence and insight with which Tétreault tackles the entire piece. With the three short fillers beautifully done, this is a disc to cherish.