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David W Moore
American Record Guide, July 2010

Here is a cellist with an impressive sound and chops to match. Altstaedt is billed as winner of the Adam International Cello Competition in New Zealand, 2006. He has chosen a program of little-heard but powerful French composers.

Gabriel Pierné (1863–1937) wrote his one-movement Sonata in 1922. It is a curiouslyformed tone poem of mystery and involvement, a deep work to be followed up. The short pieces serve to end the program.

After Pierné’s Sonata we have three short pieces by the great teacher Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979) from 1914. They are beautifullyformed miniatures that make me wish she had written more music of her own.

Then we have the cello works of Vincent D’Indy (1851–1931), first the 1884 ‘Lied’, originally for cello and orchestra. An eight-minute piece of variety and warmth, it is followed by his Sonata, finished in 1925, based on old French dance forms.

All of this music is performed with subtle intensity by Altstaedt and Gallardo. It is an unusually interesting program played with polish and virtuosity. I’m glad to have it here and hope for more from these musicians.

Nick Barnard
MusicWeb International, April 2010

Cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and pianist José Gallardo are both committed advocates…interesting—if not revelatory—repertoire, well engineered and produced, typically lucid notes from Keith Anderson, lovely piano, technically superb cello playing…

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2010

An attractive and unusual programme of French music to introduce Nicolas Altstaedt, the winner of the 2006 Adam International Cello Competition in New Zealand. They are not pieces that afford an outward show of brilliance, much depending on the soloist’s elegance and singing quality, Altstaedt drawing this in plentiful quantity from his magnificent 1824 Nicolas Lupot cello. Most was written at either side of the First World War though the peaceful serenity that characterises the music makes no reference to the impact that the conflict had made on France, nor to the turmoil that the modernists were bringing to the arts. The Pierné sonata is in one continuous rhapsodic movement, the piano more active than the cello’s lyrical role around which it weaves a web of sound. Nadia Boulenger’s Three Pieces are short, much contrasted and endearing, the finale a wild and vivacious dance, where melodic material flashes between cello and piano. D’Indy’s Lied—originally for cello and orchestra—must rank among the most overtly beautiful melodies. The Sonata I find a strange mixture, the eloquent opening giving a pixilated little dance which forms the brief second movement. The soulful mood of the Air, is soon dispelled by the final Gigue, that abounds with happiness. Two short encore pieces by Pierné, Expansion and Caprice, complete the CD. Throughout Altstaedt has shown a very good technique, his bowing arm creating the seamless phrases required, and the left hand unfailing in its accuracy. You feel he is particularly at home in the soulful side of the cello, and he would be impressive in English nostalgia. I am sure we will hear more about him in the future. Jose Gallardo is the responsive partner, and the UK recording is exemplary.

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