Two of the familiar keystones of the cello repertoire—Bloch’s Schelomo and Bruch’s Kol Nidreiare combined here with the lesser known Bloch symphonic poem Voice in the Wilderness and an arrangement by Christopher Palmer for cello, harp and string orchestra of the cycle From Jewish Life. There are sufficient common denominators in the Jewish resonances and the use of the cello in cantor-like fashion to render the programme cohesive and interconnected, but at the same time there is a variety of style and idea that gives it a wide enough scope to sustain a whole CD.
Natalie Clein is the cello protagonist in all four works, her range of tonal colour, her animation and her discreet soulfulness proving to be ideal qualities.
Voice in the Wilderness is well worth investigating for the impetus that Bloch sustains through a series of six short meditations, from an intensely introspective start towards the joyous vigour and rapturous lyricism that precedes the hushed ending. As in Schelomo, the relationship between cello and orchestra is closely knit, Ilan Volkov conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with just the impetus and sensibility that this music requires. The smaller orchestral forces for From Jewish Life are tellingly proportioned.Kol Nidrei is one of the most beautiful works in the entire cello canon, a factor that this performance conveys in a blend of tranquillity and heartfelt ardour.