I think this is the first time I’ve seen playing the infamously difficult solo part of the Barber Cello Concerto compared to the murderous actions of Sweeny Todd, “the demon barber of Fleet Street.” But here you go:
This week in a theater near you, Sweeney Todd isn’t the only musical barber who dwells on the past.
Samuel Barber’s darkly nostalgic Cello Concerto made its belated Eastman Theatre debut Thursday, more than six decades after it was composed. Soloist Julie Albers and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra dispatched its cruel challenges as efficiently as Geva Theatre Center’s hero was doing a few blocks away.
Some cellists find preparing this piece murder–so the soloist is more the victim than the perpetrator. I read somewhere that Leonard Rose played it once, and said that was enough, he’d rather live a long life. In any event, plenty of praise in this review for Albers, who seems to be building a great career, and maybe should be nicknamed the “demon cellist of Lincoln Center.” (Although she’s a very non-demonic looking woman.)
Nothing fazed the young Manhattan cellist: sprints across all four strings, sliding plucked notes, daredevil acrobatics in thumb position. (That’s when the player’s left thumb leaves its secure home on the cello’s neck for the dizzying upper slopes of the fingerboard.) In songful passages, she drew a lean, assertive tone from her 1872 Vuillaume instrument.