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Two Elgars fight tooth and nail in the charts

The latest Nielsen Soundscan charts from the US show two recordings of the Elgar cello concerto fighting for the upper hand. At number 12 is Alisa Weilerstein’s stunning Decca recording with Daniel Barenboim’s Berliners. But overtaking her and three rungs above is Zuill Bailey on Telarc with  Krzysztof Urbanski and theIndianapolis Symphony Orchestra, several degrees lower in pedigree and with three dollops of Smetana as fillers.


Our man at the till says Bailey is a brilliant post-concert CD salesman, incredibly charming and available for autographs til first light of dawn.

Alisa might need to start cancelling dinners.

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  1. Is Krzysztof Urbanksi a Polish relative of the celebrated graffiti artist?

  2. Wendy Latessa says:

    That’s a fairly snobbish remark the author makes comparing so-called “pedigrees” of the two artists. How about actually LISTENING to the releases and then draw conclusions? You may find there is an artistic reason for the different sales figures reflected in the charts. The Bailey performance is quite outstanding.

    • Agreed. I was initially afraid the Bailey performance might get overlooked because of all the attention the Weilerstein has received. Bailey’s performance is a strong alternative to the hyper-emotive or tenderly resigned approaches to Elgar’s concerto. Bailey shows that the work is effective when played with sinewy, aggressive fire. Whether one likes it or not is one’s choice, but for crying out loud, don’t snub it just because the cellist doesn’t have a famous classical music family name, nor is the conductor associated with the legend of the work. Bailey and Urbanski deserve respect for a fine performance. The Smetana is also first-rate. The only thing deserving a harumph is Telarc (or, should I say, what remains of Telarc) randomly combining them on this release.

  3. Are we now saying that to be a good salesman of classical music is a bad thing?

  4. Here’s Weilerstein playing Dvořák yesterday in Helsinki:

  5. William Safford says:

    I have listened to and met Zuill Bailey on several occasions. He is both very talented and personable.

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