Sunday 20 October 2013

Corinne Morris: Macedonian Sessions

Corinne Morris
British/French cellist Corinne Morris trained at both the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire, doing a post-graduate degree at the University of Music in Austria. But a promising career was cut short by a debilitating shoulder injury. After a gap of five years, treatment from the field of sports medicine has enable her to pick up her career. This new disc, recorded with Philip Hesketh and the Macedonian Radio Symphony Orchestra shows her picking up the threads of her career. On the disc she performs a mixture of shorter classics from the concertante cello repertoire along with lesser known pieces, including Bruch's Kol Nidrei Op.14, Saint Saen's Allegro Appasionato Op.43, Tchaikovsky's Nocturne Op.19 No.4, Woldemar Bargiel's Adagio Op.38, Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile Op.14, John Williams' Theme from Schindler's List, her own Un Ultime Volte, Faure's Elegie Op.24, Massenet's Meditation from Thais, Piazolla's Oblivion and Falla's Ritual Fire Dance.

Morris opens with the longest piece on the disc, Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, his 1881 work based on Hebrew melodies. Morris displays a lovely singing line and fine grained tone. The bring a rich chestnut sound to the lower register and performs the work with elegant style and gentle melancholy. There is a good dialogue between soloist and orchestra and the recording rather made me wish to hear Morris performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto.

Camille Saint-Saens Allegro appassionato dates from 1876, and is the composer's own orchestration of a work for cello and piano. The piece plunges straight in and Morris's elegant style suits here well here. For all its brevity, the piece is challenging and Morris shows us some nice even fingerwork.

Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky's Nocturne was originally a piano piece which the composer orchestrated in 1888, very much a song-like piece which Morris plays with a nicely shaped, fine line. Woldemar Bargiel was Clara Schumann's half-brother (no, I hadn't heard of him either). With Brahms, Bargiel edited the complete works of Schumann and of Chopin. His Adagio for cello and orchestra was written in 1871 and is again rather song like, but with a developing feeling of intense drama and some nice rhetorical passages.  Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile is far more familiar, and her rendered by Morris with a nice warm chestnut-hued tone.

She brings an elegant sense of melancholy to the haunting Theme from Schindler's List by John Williams, a transcription of the original version for solo violin and orchestra. Morris's own Un' Ultima Volta was originally written for voice and orchestra, written when Morris was unable to play the cello. It includes a piano in the texture and is unashamedly romantic in its rather film-music like melancholy.

Gabriel Faure's Elegie in C minor was originally written for cello and piano in 1883, though the composer later orchestrated it. Initially rather song like, there are strong dark undertones which develop into something more strenuous. Morris plays fine-grained tone and singing line, but there were moments when I wanted a bit more from her. Jules Massenet's Meditation from Thais, is also a transcription of a piece for violin and orchestra originally written for the composer's opera Thais premiered in 1894. Here Morris brings a lovely feeling of passion to the solo line.

Astor Piazolla's Oblivion has been transcribed for many different instruments since the composer
wrote it in 1984 for bandoneon. Beautifully realised by Morris and the Macedonian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the performance lacks something of the Latin American fire of the original, replacing it with a more European elegant sophistication.

The transcription of Manuel De Falla's Ritual Fire Dance, from his 1915 balle El Amor Brujo, was made by the great cellist Guilhermina Suggia. If forms a strong and exciting finale to the disc.

Throughout Morris is warmly supported by Hesketh and Macedonia Radio Symphony Orchestra who turn in a fine performance.

Throughout the disc I was struct by Morris's elegant style and fine grained singing tone and I look forward to hearing her further.

Max Bruch (1838 - 1920) - Kol Nidrei, Op.47 (1881) [10.09]
Camille Saint-Saens (1835 - 1921) - Allegro Appassionato, Op.43 (1876) [4.11]
Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893) - Nocturne, Op.19 No.4 (1888) [4.32]
Woldemar Bargiel (1828 - 1897) - Adagio Op.38 (1871) [7.11]
Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893) - Andante Cantabile, Op.14 [6.58]
John Williams (born 1932) - Theme from Schindler's List [4.07]
Corinne Morris - Un'Ultima Volta [4.08]
Gabriel Faure (1845 - 1924) - Elegie, Op.24 (1883) [6.35]
Jules Massenet (1842 - 1912) - Meditation de Thais (1894) [5.35]
Astor Piazzolla (1921 - 1992) - Oblivion (1984) [3.52]
Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946) - Ritual Fire Dance (1915) [3.50]
Corinne Morris (cello)
Macedonian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Philip Hesketh (conductor)
Recroded 29-30 June, 1 July 2013, FAME's Prospect Studio M1, Skopje, Macedonia
MMP1307 1CD [61.08]

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