What if this album turned out to be the new standard version of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor? Judging from what we get to see of the young cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, it might well be, thanks to the sumptuous, smouldering sounds that fill this interpretation from beginning to end. It would be far too tempting to compare the young German to her distant colleague Jacqueline Du Pré, for whom this concerto was a signature piece. The publisher was on the right track when they took Marie-Elisabeth Hecker's picture striking exactly the same pose as the English cellist does in one of her most famous photographs, taken when she was the young wife of Daniel Barenboim: but Hecker's head is cocked the other way to throw the observer off.
Born in Zwickau in 1987, she was one of the youngest participants ever to win the Rostropovich Competition in Paris. In 2010, she enjoyed a thrilling success in her hometown, playing Concerto in A minor to mark the bicentenary of Robert Schumann's birth (he was born in the same town), conducted by Daniel Barenboim, who would no doubt have felt very touched by a scene that recalled his own youth. The attentive and careful accompaniment by Edo de Waart shows off the sonic riches of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, which he led from 2011 to 2016. Yet more proof of the high quality achieved by so many orchestras around the world today. This is an interesting pairing with a short, ultra-romantic piece by Elgar, Sospiri, transcribed here for cello and strings, whose secrets are laid bare by cellist Sol Gabetta. The Quintet for Piano in A Minor is the other major piece by Elgar to feature on this new recording. Composed in 1918, it is a very refined work, which often takes on orchestral tones, in a very Brahmsian language. © François Hudry/Qobuz