Wednesday 10 February 2016

A very recommendable recording of cello concertos by Haydn and CPE Bach from Marc Coppey and the Zagreb Soloists on their debut recording for Audite

French cellist Marc Coppey was winner of the two highest prizes at the 1988 Bach competition Leipzig, first prize and special prize for the best interpretation of Bach.  He studied at Strasbourg and Paris Conservatoires as well as at Indiania University, Bloomington. Lord Yehudi Menuhin discovered Marc Coppey’s talent at an early age and subsequently invited him to make his Moscow and Paris debuts by performing the Tchaikovsky Trio with himself and Victoria Postnikova, a collaboration documented on film by famous film director Bruno Monsaingeon. In 1989, Mstislav Rostropovitch invited Coppey to the Evian Festival and from that moment on his solo career took off.

A frequent soloist with the leading orchestras of today, Marc Coppey has collaborated with many distinguished conductors such as Eliahu Inbal, Emmanuel Krivine, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michel Plasson, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Theodor Guschlbauer, Pascal Rophé, Yutaka Sado, John Nelson, Raymond Leppard, Erich Bergel, Alan Gilbert, Lionel Bringuier, Kirill Karabits, Paul McCreesh and Asher Fisch.

He has performed across Europe, North and South America and Asia and in some of the most prestigious concert halls of the world and as a chamber music player has performed the cello repertoire with such renowned artists as Maria-Joao Pires, Stephen Kovacevich, Nicholas Angelich, Aleksandar Madzar, Michel Beroff, Peter Laul, François-Frédéric Guy, Mikhail Rudy, Augustin Dumay, Victoria Mullova, Liana Gourdjia, Tedi Papavrami, Ilya Gringolts, Laurent Korcia, David Grimal, Gérard Caussé, Janos Starker, Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Michel Portal, Paul Meyer, Emmanuel Pahud and the Prazak, Talich or Ebene Quartets. From 1995 to 2000 he was a member of the Ysaÿe Quartet, performing at the most prestigious international concert venues. Marc Coppey is a professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris and gives master-classes all over the world. He performs on a rare cello by Matteo Goffriller (Venice 1711).

Marc Coppey’s many recordings have received critical acclaim worldwide. As artistic director of the Zagreb Soloists Coppey has recorded Cello Concertos by Joseph Haydn and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach as his debut recording for Audite

A short video about this recording can be found on the Audite website )

The Zagreb Soloists were founded in 1953 as an ensemble of Radio Zagreb, under the artistic leadership of the renowned cellist Antonio Janigro and have since gained recognition as one of the world’s most outstanding chamber orchestras. They have given concerts on all continents, in all the major cities and the most famous concert halls such as the Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Royal Festival Hall (London), Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Tchaikowski Hall (Moscow), Santa Cecilia (Rome), Carnegie Hall (New York), Opera House (Sydney), Victoria Hall (Geneva), Teatro Real (Madrid) and Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires).

The Zagreb Soloists bring a spirited opening to the Moderato of Joseph Haydn’s (1732-1809) Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb:1 (1761-5) providing a great clarity that only a small ensemble like this can achieve.  When he enters, Marc Coppey digs deep bringing some rich incisive, expressive tones.  As the movement progresses Coppey’s cello really sings. The ensemble between soloist and ensemble is extremely taut both bringing a beautifully created long musical line topped by a nicely proportioned cadenza.

The Zagreb Soloists bring an exquisitely shaped opening to the Adagio. When the soloist enters he finds a lovely balance with the gentle orchestral line. This is a really poetic conception with a fine rubato and a lovely tone that isn’t without moments of more intense bowing. There is some beautifully controlled playing from both soloist and orchestra.

The Zagreb Soloists bring a really lithe orchestral opening to the Finale. Allegro molto with Coppey bringing some exceptionally fine, fast and fluent playing pointed up by some occasional rich deep chords. Again his cello really sings as he provides a performance of real panache, finding a fine rapport with the ensemble.  

The Zagreb players bring a lovely gentle opening to the Allegro moderato of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major, Hob. VIIb:2 (1783) with nicely pointed dramatic phrases. Marc Coppey brings a fine emotional edge when he enters, moving from rich mahogany passages to singing higher phrases in this thoughtful, well-shaped performance, full of emotional thrust. There is a wonderful precision as well as a finely played cadenza from which the soloist extracts some fine textures and timbres from his instrument.

Marc Coppey brings a lovely wistful feel to the opening of the Adagio reflected by the playing of the Zagreb Soloists as they move through some exquisite softer passages where this soloist brings a lovely hushed tone before a gentle coda

The Allegro brings a lovely lilting sway as soloist and orchestra take this music forward with a gentle rhythmic impetus. There are some fine, fast passages from Coppey as well as some incisive passages, though with this soloist always extracting a fine tone.  

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s (1714-1788) Cello Concerto in A Major, Wq. 172 dated from around 1753 having appeared in versions for harpsichord and strings and flute and strings. There is a bright and buoyant opening to the Allegro from the Zagreb Soloists. When Marc Coppey enters he brings some really finely shaped phrases and a lovely tone, weaving some fine musical lines as the music progresses. There is some lovely rubato from both soloist and ensemble.  

The Largo con sordini, mesto brings a subdued, dark hued orchestral opening to which Coppey adds an intense emotion. Though this cellist eases the tension to move ahead there is still much pathos. Coppey provides some very fine tone from his instrument, weaving a fine melancholy with the ensemble with a lovely, beautifully shaped solo passage just before the gentle coda.  

The Allegro assai immediately throws off the melancholy as the Zagreb Soloists bound ahead, punctuated by little gentler pauses. Coppey maintains the joyous element as he brings some fine, fluent playing with moments of longer, flowing, singing cello line as well as some fine textures

This performance could secure a whole new following for this fine cello concerto.

Marc Coppey and the Zagreb Soloists deliver a freshness that brings this music alive. They gain so much in terms of clarity and ensemble with this small orchestra.
Coppey may only have been directing the Zagreb Soloists for two years but it is obvious that they have already found a very close working relationship.

This really is a fine release nicely recorded at Lisinski, Small Hall, Zagreb, Croatia. The booklet notes take the form of an interview with Marc Coppey. 

All in all, a very recommendable recording of these works.

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