Yan Levionnois: Cello Solo
There has always been something particularly elegant about French cellists, and older generations of sophisticated players such as Alain Meunier have given way to similarly stylish performers like Gastinel and Capuçon. Now the 22-year-old Yan Levionnois brings a cool maturity to a collection of challenging cello works, written from the 1950s on.
The Ibert in particular showcases the sort of sensitive playing that engages the listener in the pleasure of freely shared experience. In fact, there is an appealing Frenchness that pervades all these performances but which is not instrusive for all that – in the Ibert there is an inescapable sense that Levionnois is playing music that is in his blood; to the Prokofiev he brings a flavour of cosmopolitan glamour that evokes more of the Paris in which the composer lived in the 1930s than the dour Russia of 1953 in which it was written; and the Crumb has a open simplicity that is an appropriate match for its own directness and lack of Crumb’s unusual techniques.
It is also a welcome addition to have a young performer starting their recording career playing a fine modern cello rather than an antique Italian or French instrument. In Levionnois’s case, it brings a freshness to the sound, further enhancing the straightforward sincerity that makes this disc so captivating.