Celebrated for his pivotal role in resurrecting the Bach suites for solo cello and championing their performance throughout his career, Pablo Casals' repertoire was much more far-reaching. Perhaps the best way to observe the breadth of his interests is to investigate the works he chose to perform as encores. Flashy, virtuosic show pieces certainly had their place in this repertoire, but Casals looked more favorable upon works that highlighted the more lyrical, soulful aspects of his instrument.
Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' Quartet is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and HD video to download. The concert includes the early quartets in D Major D74 and B-flat Major D68 as well as the monumental 'Death and the Maiden' D810, and it's the first release of the Cuarteto Casals' five disc set of live performances of the complete quartets of Franz Schubert…
Despite extraordinary international recognition Myra Hess never assumed the role of famed cosmopolitan soloist. Rather, she remained the archetypal English lady abroad. Even so she conquered America from the first, an appearance at New York in 1922 with a program that included Scarlatti and Bach, Franck and Schumann, Debussy and Chopin. Myra Hess was preparing for an extensive tour of America when war was declared in 1939. Refusing to leave the UK, she soon became involved in a cause which eventually made her name a legend, the war-time National Gallery concerts. Chamber music was, quite simply, a life-long love that inexorably grew to a passion and which perhaps, reached its climax with appearances at Casals' Prades Festival in 1951-1952."by Bryan Crimp
Haydn’s Seven Last Words – a cycle of sacred adagios – has been lucky on record. There are excellent recordings no matter how you like the piece: in oratorio form (Jordi Savall, dramatic), the original orchestral (Riccardo Muti, dark-hued) or – most abundant – wide-ranging string quartet interpretations, from the poetic and period-instrument (Quatuor Mosaïques) to the intensely inward (Rosamunde Quartett). Cuarteto Casals has a quirkily formal sense of phrasing that can take some getting used to. Yet this group – from Spain, where the piece was premiered in 1787 – offers an alluring rendition in terms of timbre and texture, with the quartet’s period bows drawing out a sound that’s complex and vulnerable.
Haydn composed his orchestral version of the Seven Last Words for Good Friday devotions in Cádiz. The task of creating a purely instrumental 'oratorio' consisting of seven contemplative slow movements was by no means an easy one; but the outcome was a work of sublime nobility. In its day, it was quite popular and inspired several transcriptions, including the version for string quartet heard here in a performance by the Barcelona-based Cuarteto Casals that is both stylistically sensitive and emotionally compelling.