SAINT-SAENS & LALO
Cello Concertos; FAURE Elegy
Gabriel Fauré, Edouard Lalo, Camille Saint-Saëns
KIM COOK, cello
VALERY VATCHEV, conductor
GRIGOR PALIKAROV, conductor
“[the question is] how Ms. Cook's playing compares to acknowledged leaders in the cello field, how she holds up to the likes of Rostropovich, Starker, du Pre, Gendron, Ma, Bailey, and such. The answer is that she holds her own, but in a different sort of way. Her style appears sweeter, more lyrical, more singing than most cellists... Ms. Cook makes the cello speak and sing. Hers is a lovely technique... Recording engineer Christo Pavlov and digital master engineer Richard Price [have] created one of the better new recordings I've heard in a while. The sound is very dynamic, with a strong impact. What's more, it's a well-defined impact, with a fairly transparent midrange response.”
John J. Puccio, Classical Candor [July 2015]
[ * * * * ] “Strong playing marks Kim Cook’s survey of three traditional French cello works, well supported by the Bulgarian orchestral forces... Recordings from 2011-2012 show off the instrumental talent of cellist Kim Cook... [the Saint-Saens] provides an immediate vehicle for digital display... [Cook’s] slowly enunciated, singing line soars with the best of them... [In the Faure] Cook provides a fervent melodic line throughout, and support from the orchestra under Valeri Vatchev resonates beautifully in the winds and strings... The energetic rondo [of the Lalo] offers Ms. Cook ample opportunity to demonstrate the pyrotechnical aspects of her gifts, not the least of which is her expressive cello tone, a product of Luigi Galimberti instrument.”
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition [June 2015]
“in two works central to the concerto repertoire, Cook shows she's a musician to be reckoned with. Her style is in no way 'bravura'. However her allegiance to composers' requirements is always clearly in evidence… this is a highly commendable performance tackled with a rich tonal bloom and impressive technical address... Cook makes light of Lalo's considerable demands, and her expressive performance reminds me of an old Decca LP with celebrated Canadian cellist Zara Nelsova, the LPO and Adrian Boult in both Lalo and Saint-Saëns concertos... [the Philharmonica Bulgarica] do well by Ms Cook... The Nebraskan cellist is movingly soulful in Fauré's Elegie”
Howard Smith, Music & Vision [May 2015]
“ [ * * * * ] Kim Cook’s new MSR Classics release is also a recording in which the loveliness of the sound of the solo instrument is immediately apparent and is a big part of the CD’s attractiveness. The Saint-Saëns is a particular pleasure here, very well-paced in a tightly knit performance in which Cook’s handling of the virtuoso passages flows so naturally and with such apparent effortlessness that the music’s lyrical charm emerges as an organic rather than created element... [Fauré’s Elegy] gives Cook plenty of chances to showcase the wonderfully warm sound of her instrument while also allowing the mood change in the middle of Elegy, in a section filled with passion, to emerge with intensity and drama. [In the Lalo] Cook shows just how well she can handle the Spanish rhythms and fast scale passages without losing the fine sound that she evokes from her instrument throughout. The sheer beauty of the cello and skill of Cook’s playing are the attractions here”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [April 2015]
[ * * * * ] “I was delighted with Kim Cook’s renditions of the Tchaikovsky Variations and the Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 on the MSR label six years ago. This new recording of three cello staples continues the good effort... the Bulgarian orchestra and Cook herself are of one mind on all interpretative aspects of this music, and the playing is a sparkling reading of passion, concision, and beauty in fine sound. There are many great performers who have tackled this music, among the first people like Janos Starker... But Cook has a fresh appeal and brings considerable talent to these readings, well worth your attention.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [April 2015]
“American cellist Kim Cook...studied with some eminent teachers, including Aldo Parisot. That venerable figure, now 93 years old and still living and active as professor of music at Yale, must be very proud indeed of his former pupil, if we are to judge by the present trio of choice works by French composers... Kim Cook handles the virtuoso demands of the music... she cultivates one of the most beautiful singing tones I have ever heard coaxed from a cello.”
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [December 2014]
An interesting web of connections exists among the selections represented here. In 1871, following the Franco-Prussian war, there was a revival in France to rally behind its musical tradition and indigenous composers. The National Society for Music, founded by the nation’s leading composers at the time, sought to champion performances of native composers and to legitimize French music – especially instrumental and orchestral French music – as serious art. Until 1871, a French composer’s worth was valued mainly by his ability to measure up to the Italianate and Germanic opera machines. According to Camille Saint-Saëns, founder and co-president of the National Society for Music, the public was not interested in anything home-grown before the war: “the name of a composer, at once French and living, printed on a poster had the effect of putting everyone to flight.” Saint-Saëns found traction for his ideas amongst his fellow composers, a long list of esteemed names that included Gabriel Fauré, a former pupil of Saint-Saëns and also a founding member of the Society, and Édouard Lalo, whose instrumental works were largely unnoticed before 1870. The Society was not merely a group of composers, however. Conductors such as Édouard Colonne and Charles Lamoureux helped to get new French music to venues and in front of a public that was suddenly thirsting for anything musically consumable. It would be Lamoureux that would give a young Pablo Casals his “big break,” inserting the Spanish cellist into a headlining role in his 1899 concert series. Casals would give his Paris debut performing Lalo’s Cello Concerto, and would follow up with a performance of Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto in December of the same year.
has performed as a soloist throughout the United States and in 27 countries worldwide, including Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Croatia, England, Ireland, France, Finland, Russia, China, Israel, Jordan and Latin America. She has served as an International Artistic Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Television and radio broadcasts of Cook’s performances have been heard in Brazil, China and the United States. As a recording artist, she can
be heard performing concertos by Dvorák, Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich and solo sonatas by Kodaly, Crumb and Hindemith. Cook was principal cellist of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Eleazar de Carvalho and taught at New Mexico State University prior to her appointment as Professor of Cello at Penn State University. A native of Nebraska and a graduate of Yale University and the University of Illinois, she studied cello with Carol Work, Gabriel Magyar, Aldo Parisot, Alan Harris, and Janos Starker. Kim Cook performs on a cello made by Luigi Galimberti of Milan.
studied at the Bulgarian Music Academy and in Vienna with Karl Österreicher. In 1993, he was appointed Principal Conductor and Music Director of the State Philharmonic Orchestra at Vratza, Bulgaria, and in 1998 was appointed Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Bulgarica. Vatchev conducted more than 30 operas and 250 symphonic works, and led more than 100 world premieres of contemporary works by composers from Europe, Asia and the United States. He conducted on tour in Germany, Bulgaria and Greece in collaboration with BMG, and in Sofia for José Carreras. Vatchev has recorded for numerous labels, including BMG, Minerva, Fontec, Arcobaleno, Tonal, Wildflower, Summit, Albany and Polytropon, and also for radio, including National Radio Bulgaria, MDR, Radio Varna, Radio Craiova and KBS in South Korea. In Bulgaria, Vatchev organized and from 1996 to 2004 directed a national orchestral education program for children. Sadly, he passed away before this recording was completed.
graduated from the State Academy of Music in Sofia, majoring in piano, conducting and composition. As a pianist, he gave solo recitals in Bulgaria and abroad, played with orchestras in Sofia, and recorded for the Bulgarian National Radio. He has written choral, orchestral and chamber music, and in 1994 won the special prize for composition of the Young Bulgarian Talents Foundation, named after Schnittke. Palikarov served as Chief Conductor of the
Ensemble of the Bulgarian Army, and has conducted the National Orchestra of Belgium in Brussels, National Opera of Ljubljana in Slovenia, New Tone Ensemble in Vienna, Bankya Chamber Orchestra and Opera Circle in Cleveland. Since 2001, he has been the Principal Conductor at the National Opera in Sofia and Assistant Professor at the State Academy of Music and Dance Arts in Plovdiv. Since 2005, Palikarov has served as General Artistic Manager of the Pazardjik Symphony Orchestra, and in 2008 was appointed as the principal conductor of the Classic FM M-Tel Symphony Orchestra in Sofia.
CELLO CONCERTO NO.1 IN A MINOR, OP. 33 (1872)
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Allegretto con moto
III. Tempo primo (Un peu moins vite)
ELEGY IN C MINOR, OP. 24 (1880, orch. 1897)
CELLO CONCERTO IN D MINOR (1877)
I. Prelude: Lento – Allegro maestoso
II. Intermezzo: Andantino con moto
III. Introduction: Andante – Allegro vivace