Upbeat: Forty's company

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The Independent Culture
CELLO ensembles are rare enough - but a group of 40? Yesterday it was due to happen for the second time in three months, to top up the contents of a forthcoming CD single from Cala Records. They were the entire cello sections of four of the London orchestras, the Philharmonia and London Philharmonic, RPO and BBC SO. It's a feat of cooperation hard to bring off, given their hectic schedules, not to mention the usual competitive attitudes. The nearest precedent is a recording of Handel's Fireworks Music for massed wind, three decades ago, which had to be scheduled for the middle of the night.

In the first session, believe it or not, they played Saint-Saens's The Swan, Rachmaninov's Vocalise, and 'Tonight' from West Side Story, in special arrangements by Richard Balcombe. The return match went for Casals's inspirational Sardana as well as a version of Greensleeves, again conducted by Geoffrey Simon. If the disc is a hit when it comes out at the end of the month - and the sound, at least, ought to be sensational - somebody should try stretching their imaginations for the follow-up. But please, no massed versions of The Protecting Veil.