Seemingly on an impulse, Robert Schumann wrote his Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, during two weeks in 1850, heading towards the last years of lucidity and life. Schumann may never have heard it played as the concerto did not premiere until seven months after his death. On this disc we have the opportunity of hearing not only the Cello Concerto but three other pieces written for cello and piano, the Adagio and Allegro perhaps being the most well known..
What a versatile artist Steven Isserlis is. Having made his name as a sympathetic interpreter of a wide variety of romantic and modern music, here he shows he can be just as persuasive in eighteenth-century repertoire. His stylistic awareness is evident in beautiful, elegant phrasing, selective use of vibrato and varied articulation, giving an expressive range that never conflicts with the music’s natural language. In the cello concertos he is helped by an extremely sensitive accompaniment, stressing the chamber musical aspects of Haydn’s pre-London orchestral writing. The soft, intimate sonority at 3'06'' in the first movement of the D major is a typical example. The Adagios are taken at a flowing speed, but Isserlis’s relaxed approach means they never sound hurried. The Allegro molto finale of the C major Concerto, on the other hand, sounds poised rather than the helter-skelter we often hear. In his understanding of the music, Isserlis is a long way ahead of Han-na Chang, whose version places the emphasis on fine, traditional-style cello playing. Mork’s vivacious, imaginative performances characterize the music very strongly, but my preference would be for Isserlis’s and Norrington’s lighter touch and greater refinement.
The Cello Concerto No.1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1, by Joseph Haydn was composed around 1761–1765 for longtime friend Joseph Weigl, then the principal cellist of Prince Nicolaus's Esterhazy Orchestra. The work was presumed lost until 1961, when musicologist Oldrich Pulkert discovered a copy of the score at the Prague National Museum. Though some doubts have been raised about the authenticity of the work, most experts believe that Haydn did compose this concerto.
After titanic contributions to the cello sonata repertoire by Ludwig van Beethoven, few notable additions were made for several decades. Not until 1862 did the cello sonata re-emerge in the hands of Johannes Brahms. His peculiar First Sonata contains only three movements (the Adagio having been omitted for fear of the sonata being too lengthy) and a finale that all but defies formal analysis. Almost a quarter century passed before Brahms again returned to the cello sonata, this time in the key of F major. The second sonata is considerably more challenging for cellists and Brahms' treatment of the instrument is not the exclusively lyrical, sonorous melodies that one might expect. Rather, Brahms incorporates lots of rhythmic, motivic playing and pizzicato passages and rapid bariolage. A "third" cello sonata, which has become increasingly popular in recent years, is Paul Klengel's (whose cello-playing father was much admired by Brahms) transcription of the G major Violin Sonata.
This CD collects three different recordings from different occasions and with different artists as well: Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, op. 14, the Cello concerto, op. 22, and the Piano concerto, op. 38. The Violin concerto features Isaac Stern, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a classic 1964 performance - still the one to have despite Hahn's hailed recording……L. Johan @ Amazon.com
Cellist Christian Poltéra turns to the music of Samuel Barber. He is joined by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Litton and pianist Kathryn Stott. Poltéra opens his programme with the Cello Concerto – one of only three concertos by Barber – which balances the natural lyric expressiveness of his earlier music with a more urgent, rhythmic and intense style.