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Beatific Bertrand

This second release by French cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand is a wondrous survey of 20th-century solo cello works and a welcome departure from her first album, a collection of standard concertos by Édouard Lalo and Robert Schumann. Solo Works for Cello is also bolstered by Bertrand's in-depth knowledge and understanding of these modern works.

The highlight of the collection is the Henri Dutilleux work Trios Strophes sur le Nom de Sacher (RealAudio excerpt), an homage to Swiss conductor and arts patron Paul Sacher. Most notable is the third movement, which conjures images of a tumbling dance. Bertrand won special recognition for her 1992 work on Trios Strophes at the Paris Conservatoire, and received insights from the composer himself during rehearsals. Her studies shine through in an array of tone colors and rhythmic clarity.

The Serenade of Hans Werner Henze is a breakneck, nine-section work that clocks in at just under eight minutes. The Sonata of George Crumb, gives an interesting snapshot of the composer, known for larger works such as Ancient Voices of Children.

The collection picks up again with the hauntingly beautiful Sonata by Gygör Ligeti. The first selection, Dialogue (RealAudio excerpt) wonderfully blends dripping slides with crisp attacks from Bertrand. Another surprise is the Suite Number 4 by Nicolas Bacri, a highlight of which is the "Intermezzo" (RealAudio excerpt).