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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Stjepan Hauser, Classic Hauser, London Symphony Orchestra

If what gets covered in these blog pages tends to be somewhat more esoteric than, for example,  today's selection, it is never an absolute thing in my mind. My exploration of some of the most advanced paths of New Music does not stop me from discussing something fashioned for a wider, more general audience if it seems good to me.

So we have an album today showcasing cellist Stjepan Hauser, entitled simply Classic Hauser (SONY Classics I9075988532). The emphasis on the 16 selections is on ravishing melodies from mostly very well-known works, arranged for cello and orchestra. And whether you are sheltering during the COVID Pandemic or at a place where you can be passing daily through the workaday scene this album surely can give you a little respite from an anxious world.

The emphasis is on Hauser's extraordinarily beautiful tone, impassioned, a moderate vibrato much of the time, soaring atop the orchestra, impeccably phrased, with a very pronounced balance and poise. Needless to say the London Symphony Orchestra rises to the occasion as well, giving Hauser a lovely carpet of symphonic tone while he hovers consistently above.

If you want to sample just one thing here to start, his version of the sadly tender Samuel Barber "Adagio" is as magical and as dreamy as can be. Perfect.

Hauser hails from Croatia and is known of course for his solo work,  his work with the Greenwich Trio, as well as his presence as half of 2Cellos with Luka Sulic. He tackles crossover material with a relish that has introduced him to  non-Classical audiences around the world.

But as Classic Hauser so ravishingly shows us, it is with a soaring classical melody that he shines forth the most brightly. Listen to the cello-orchestral arrangement of part of Mozart's "Concerto for Clarinet" and you'll no doubt revel in the lyric passion he so expressively conveys to us. Yiruma's "River Flows in You" has a breathtaking anthemic treatment here, for those who recognize the handsomely emotive theme, or even if not. Last's "The Lonely Shepherd" from KillBill positively glows too. And in the end all thoughts of "purism" get thrown to the winds if you can manage that. Then the album acts as a reminder that all that is "popular" is not the same, that the right project can appeal to a large number of people and still have a supreme artistry about it,. Listen to the new version of the adagio from Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 21." Well!

After a bunch of listens I must say this program wears well and no doubt will appeal to just about anyone you might put it on for. You could of course do that. Or just listen for yourself.

It no doubt is selling well. Yet it convinces in its own way, too! I am glad for the artist.

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