SHOSTAKOVICH & TCHAIKOVSKYCello Concerto No.1 & Rococo Variations
Dmitri Shostakovich, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
KIM COOK, cello
Volgograd Symphony Orchestra
“ [ * * * * * ] Another recording of a popular twentieth century concerto and a romantic classic, both recorded by numerous artists; can there be a need? Yes, there is always a need for well played, beautifully recorded performances, particularly when, as in this case, they provide a somewhat different interpretive slant... She, conductor Edward Serov and the Volgograd Symphony offer a thoughtful, splendidly executed performance of the Shostakovich… To my ear, Cook and Serov find unsuspected depth in the work, and link it more closely to the composer's intense 1st Violin Concerto. The recorded sound is ideal and the tone and timbre of the Russian Orchestra similarly sound just right in this music--the horns are far more idiomatic to Shostakovich's writing than those of the American, London and German orchestras [Cook's] fingerwork is remarkable--actually she articulates much of the passage work more clearly, even, than Schiff--abetted, perhaps by the splendid sound. Speaking of sound, that which she draws from her instrument could not be more beautiful. Her tone is lovely throughout and most moving in the cadenza... [Kim Cook plays the Tchaikovsky] with unfailing grace and beauty, and, once again, she offers an interpretation which is sufficiently different to warrant our attention. This is virtuoso playing, but it is not an ostentatious, virtuosic performance. Rather, a lyrical approach, a touch of introspection, serve to highlight the melodic content of Tchaikovsky's writing.. This is a beautiful record, and one that has given me much pleasure. Highly recommended!”
James Forrest (Fanfare reviewer), Amazon.com [February 2015]
"Cook has a solid technique and attractively firm, smooth tone that's especially effective in lyrical music... the way Cook makes the solo part song [in the Shostakovich] is eloquent."
Gramophone [January 2010]
"Kim Cook is quite a cellist... Her performances are very impressive."
Turok's Choice, Issue No.217 [January 2010]
"Kim Cook’s an extremely fine cellist. [Her] tone is very clear and attractive, as you’ll hear in the Cadenza of the Shostakovich, and she can play with excellent spirit and gusto. The end of the Tchaikovsky is highly successful and upbeat. In part that’s because conductor and orchestra are right with the soloist, at just that point in the music. Cook’s first entry [in the Tchaikovsky] is not narcissistic, it’s communicative, and she carries on that way, to the end. The main reason for buying this CD is to hear the glorious sound Kim Cook makes with a cello, and that is something you should surely do, if you care for the instrument."
Paul Ingram, Fanfare [November / December 2009]
"[Cook plays the Shostakovich] with clarity, and the orchestra backs her up in the same mood...the ensemble is effective with the cellist..."
American Record Guide [November / December 2009]
"[Cook's] reading finds lyrical elements in the [Shostakovich] where I thought there were none; indeed her whole approach to this seminal work seems to be one of melody, allowing the underpinnings of the orchestra to add the spikiness present in all of this composer’s scores. Her bow strokes feel as if they are long and intense, giving a valued and valuable resonance and depth to her reading, trying desperately to assure us that this composer can compete with the best of them in both songful- and soulfullness. The Tchaikovsky is somewhat in the same mold, as if trying to prove a point! Cook is more expansive than many I have heard in this music, and takes her time in the many intimate passages, while not cheating us on excitement. Overall I think this a fine release, one that I am sure I will return to despite the competition... The sound is excellent and the production values high—and bravo to the Volgograd Orchestra!"
Audiophile Audition [November 2009]
"American cellist Kim Cook, with the able assistance of the Volgograd Symphony Orchestra of Russia under Edward Serov, gives performances of two Russian classics that sound simply ravishing... In the Shostakovich, the Nebraska native shows her stuff from the very opening of the Allegro, with strongly characterized mastery of a powerful driving motif G,E,B,B-flat that we will hear later in the finale. In the Sarabande-like second movement, marked Moderato and never rising above piano in its soft dynamic range, soloist and orchestra strike an ideal balance between restraint and emotion... Cook has the stage all to herself in the 6-minute Cadenza, comprising some of the most difficult writing (including scalar passages) imaginable for the cello. Here, she is called upon to alternate between richly expressive bowing and boldly struck pizzicati, as she ranges from higher to lower registers in an eloquent rumination on earlier themes that serves as a bridge to the finale. Marked Allegro con moto, it is given all the movement and verve that Shostakovich could have desired, ending on a decisive note… The Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations holds pleasant perils of a different nature than the Shostakovich. By contrast, it is so immediately engaging and adorable that its natural inclination is to snuggle up in the listener's lap and fall asleep. Cook avoids this pleasant trap through a strict adherence to the lithe, firm but flexible line of the melody in all the guises in which it appears in this wonderfully luminous score. The work is romantic in feeling, and most particularly Russian. In the slow Variations III and IV, marked Andante sostenuto and Andante grazioso, respectively, Tchaikovsky pays homage to the music of Mozart's era in the bright, optimistic melody and the embellishments he adds to it. Kim Cook's ravishingly beautiful singing tone in the former, and the decorations she applies in the latter while flawlessly effortlessly soaring up to the the cello's high register, distinguish her performance."
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [June 2009]
PROGRAM NOTES“This concert and recording with the Volgograd Symphony and Mr. Serov provided me with a unique experience. The Russian musicians gave me a deep insight into creating a meaningful interpretation of the music of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. I appreciate the emotional intensity and purpose that they generously shared in our work together.” – KIM COOK
KIM COOK has performed as a soloist in more than 25 countries, including Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, England, Ireland, France, Finland, Russia, China, Israel, Jordan, and in Latin America and throughout the United States. She has presented concerts and master classes as International Artistic Ambassador for the US State Department. Television and radio broadcasts of Ms. Cook’s performances have been heard in Brazil, China, and the United States. She has also recorded concertos by Dvorak and Haydn and solo sonatas of Kodaly, Crumb and Hindemith. A native of Nebraska, Ms. Cook received degrees from the University of Illinois and Yale University. She studied with Carol Work, Gabriel Magyar, Aldo Parisot, Alan Harris, and Janos Starker. She was principal cellist of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Eleazar de Carvalho, and taught at New Mexico State before assuming her current position as Professor of Cello at Penn State University.
EDWARD SEROV is one of the leading Russian orchestral conductors of the day. After his studies, he was named assistant to Evgeny Mravinsky with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. Winner of the first Karajan conducting competition, Mr. Serov founded two major symphony orchestras in Russia, and has served as chief conductor of the St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, the Volgograd Symphony, the Saratov Philharmonic and the Odense Symphony in Denmark. Mr. Serov was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years by the Soviet authorities, and only recently has he been able to travel freely. Serov has made more than 80 recordings for Melodiya and other labels. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reviewed one performance as “alive with poignancy, moments of suspense and thrilling peaks.”
PROGRAMDMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Concerto No.1 for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op.107
IV. Allegro con moto
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Variations on a Rococo Theme for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op.33
Moderato quasi andante - Tema. Moderato semplice
Variation I. – Tempo del tema
Variation II. – Tempo del tema
Variation III. – Andante sostenuto
Variation IV. – Andante grazioso
Variation V. – Allegro moderato
Variation VI. – Andante
Variation VII. – Allegro vivo