"South American GetawayMusic of Villa-Lobos, Piazzolla, Granda, Ben, Kaiser-Lindemann, Salgan and  Bacharach
The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic/Juliane Banse, soprano

EMI CLASSICS  56981 (F) (DDD) TT:  62:04 


In 1974  the ensemble known as  "The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic" made its  debut at the Salzburg Mozarteum before an audience that included Herbert von Karajan.  The event was a great success.  Shortly after that they recorded for  broadcast a work written for them, Julius Klengel's Hymnus,  and made the first of several recordings, all displaying  sonorities and textures of massed cellos. As you would expect of members of the Berlin Philharmonic, all 12 players are virtuosos of the first quality; individually and collectively they produce extraordinary sounds.  "The 12" of today are not "The 12" of three decades ago, but quality hasn't changed.  Their playing is astounding -- although repertory on this CD, their first for EMI, doesn't include  all-out virtuoso display pieces that highlighted their earlier LPs, such as the vivid Aubade by Jean Francaix depicting an exciting motor race.

This CD is called South American Getaway..."the rich and captivating sound of South America and Tango."  The CD title  comes from the last track, Burt Bacharach's South American Getaway, from  his 1969 score for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, heard here in an arrangement by Walter Despalj.  Also we have not only the familiar Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 of Villa-Lobos, but his Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1, the second movement of which ("Modinha") was recorded so effectively  in 1958 by Leopold Stokowski (who took about a minute longer to play it).  In between we have three pieces by Astor Piazzolla, Fuga 7 Misterio, Adi—s Nonino and Chiquil’n de Bach’n; a 4 1/2 minute set of Brazilian variations "Die 12 in Bossa-nova"  by Wilhelm Kaiser-Lindemann, La Flor de la Canela by Chabuca Granda, M‡s que nada by Jorge Ben and Horacio Salgan's A fuego lento.

Performances are the ultimate in finesse, with Juliane Banse as a rather cool soprano soloist  in Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 and Chiquil’n de Bachin.  EMI's reproduction is overly close for my taste.  Natural warmth of the sound of cellos is in short supply.  Playing time is only 62:04, not overly generous for a full-price disk, but those interested in this virtuoso ensemble doubtless won't mind.

R.E.B. (Dec. 2000)