Laura Sewell: Threescore
(March 25, 2022 / Innova Recordings)
Composers: Paul Schoenfield, David Evan Thomas, Stephen Paulus
Cellist and Minnesota native Laura Sewell founded the award-winning Lark Quartet, a top prize winner in the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The quartet performed extensively all over the world. Later, she was the cellist of the Artaria String Quartet from 2007-2016.
As a soloist and chamber musician, she's premiered works by many notable contemporary composers, and that's the impetus behind this latest release. It features chamber music from Minnesota composers that was commissioned by the Sewell family.
Pianist Ivan Konev joins her for Six British Folksongs by Paul Schoenfield, a piece inpsired by Sewell's time in London studying with iconic cellist Jacqueline duPré. The traditional tunes tell a story in a piece that's melodic and evocative, without ever giving you exactly what's expected. Sewell is joined by pianist Ora Itkin for Paulus' compositions, and the dazzling virtuosity of Gypsy Laddie is one of the release's highlights.
Stephen Paulus is featured in two compositions. His works are very contemporary in scope and eclectic in melodic approach. There's a sense of drama and emotion in the neo-baroque Banchetto Musicale. His Benediction is meditative and peaceful.
Sonja Thompson accompanies her on piano for the work of David Evans Thomas, titled From the Land of Song. The piece commemorates a family tragedy, it is said, and it's the most conventional in approach displayed by the three composers. Sparkling piano lines contrast with nimble cello work in a style you might call neo-romanticism.
It's a fine collection that showcases the range of contemporary cello performance.