Rastrelli Cello Quartet Rastrelli Effect

Rastrelli Effect
Rastrelli Cello Quartet
rec. 2022, Stuttgart

It is as well that MusicWeb doesn’t classify its reviews into genres, as this disc of twenty-two short pieces – the longest is just under four minutes – would seem unclassifiable. There are works that one might describe as light classical, but also klezmer, cocktail lounge (if that is a genre), jazz and even rock, with the four cellos joined by a saxophone on two tracks and rock drums on another.

It is not only impossible to pigeonhole but also very difficult to review. Certainly, I have no intention of commenting on each piece; I will just pick out a few. With the exception of the final work (see below), the general mood is relaxing and tuneful; there is nothing challenging here. All works have been penned in the last few years by the four members of the group and their artistic director, and the disc celebrates the group’s twentieth anniversary. So it is a pleasant way to spend fifty-two minutes – not the most generous of disc timings – and if one style doesn’t appeal, don’t worry as another that might suit you better will be along in a couple of minutes.

The three pieces that grabbed my attention most were City Rain, smooth jazz/cocktail lounge, Impression No. 2, plaintive and emotional, and Fairytale, one of six pieces from an apparently larger work Music for Children, sweet and lyrical, with rather more development of the music than the other pieces. I say “grabbed my attention” but that may be overstating it somewhat. Nothing here is less than enjoyable, but also nothing more than that either.

The last work, Rusty Sound, is described as a bonus track. I have seen such a term before applied to a piece that is only included in downloads because of space limitations on the physical disc, but here it is available on the CD, as a download and via streaming services. In what sense is it “bonus”? It is driven by rock drumming rhythms, and aspires to be raucous, but isn’t really.

Now you might have hoped that I would have fleshed out some of my comments on the four works specifically mentioned with a description of their composer’s ideas and where the names came from. Sorry, but that’s not possible, as there is no booklet provided with this, only a brief paragraph about the group’s motivations on the inside of the cover. Sound quality is good, though in one track in particular – Lullaby – which is very slow and still, and dominated by a solo, there is very evident breathing and other extraneous noises. It actually sounded like a totally different acoustic to the other tracks, though there is no suggestion that it is.

So nothing really attention-grabbing here, just pleasant and varied.

David Barker

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1.  Melody
2.  City rain
3.  The walk
4.  Blue waltz
5.  Impression No.  1
6.  Impression No.  2
7.  Impression No.  3
8.  Vocalise

From “Music for Children”
9.  The cobbler
10.  Fairytale
11.  The chase
12.  The witch
13.  Snow white
14.  Minuet

15.  Unknown movie
16.  Swing on 16 strings
17.  Farewell to the aliens
18.  Moonlight
19.  Lullaby
20.  Snow lambada
21.  The old boy
22.  Rusty sound

Asya Fateyeva (saxophone: 20, 21)
Michael Thompson (drums, 22)