These fourteen new works for solo cello and orchestra are an intense listen, exploring grief, bereavement, hope, optimism, and human relationships. The often pastoral-sounding music is characterised by predominantly slow tempi, lush textures and chords, and melodic lines that are both highly lyrical and often rhapsodic in feel. Harmonically, there's nothing astringent here. Just beauty.
It would be hard for anyone to top the humanity of Caroline Dale's interpretation. Nor her warmth, sonority and depth of tone, which just accentuates the music's sustained, almost heady emotion. The ECO support her with playing that perfectly straddles the borderline between the earthly and the eternal. Being picky, and perhaps curmudgeonly, the cello didn't need quite as much reverb as has been given. Presumably it's to heighten the otherworldly beauty, but at times it feels as if the recording could have benefited from the 'less is more' approach.
If you want to lie back to something warm, soothing, yet intense, this is unquestionably it. Beautiful music, played with passion, even if harder personality types might prefer a drier acoustic for the cello.