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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Laura Metcalf, First Day, with Matei Varga

Laura Metcalf appears before us in all her cello warmth and virtuosity on the recent album First Day (Sono Luminus 92201). It is a unified program of vivid short works, most from the 20th century with a couple from the present-day, and a baroque perennial. They give her and pianist collaborator Matei Vargas plenty of expressive and lively music.

Ms. Metcalf has a beautiful tone, a projecting sense of line and an extroverted joie de vivre that matches the repertoire very nicely. The lesser known contemporary works--Jose Bragato's "Gracia y Buenos Aires," Caleb Burhans' "Phantasie" and Dan Visconti's bluesy "Hard-knock Stomp" blend right in with the more familiar fare. All give Laura a chance to soar rhapsodically with a goodly amount of that exotic minor flavor we associate with Eastern European and Spanish/Spanish-Latin American music.

So Ms. Metcalf seems just right for Martinu's "Variations on a Slovakian Theme," Ginastera's "Pampeana No. 2, Op. 21," Enescu's "Sonata in F Minor," Poulenc's "Les chemins de l'amour" (where we get a taste of her lovely voice as well), and an especially soaring version of Marin Marais (1656-1728) and his beautiful "Variations on 'La Folia'."

Laura Metcalf brings us a sense of assuredness and a projectively dramatic way that is forwarded wonderfully by Matei Varga. It is a most beautiful recital that proclaims Laura's arrival as a major present-day cellist.

It is something to revel in, surely. Molto bravo!

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