This pivotal recording features classic performances of late eighteenth-century cello concertos, one by Haydn and Friedrich Grutzmacher’s 1895 arrangement of Boccherini’s work in B flat. The album demonstrates the enormous gifts of Jacqueline du Pre. Recorded in London in 1967, Jacqueline du Pre is accompanied by her husband Daniel Barenboim and the English Chamber Orchestra.
Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini (Lucca, Italy, February 19, 1743 – Madrid, Spain, May 28, 1805) was an Italian classical era composer and cellist whose music retained a courtly and galante style while he matured somewhat apart from the major European musical centers. Boccherini is most widely known for one particular minuet from his String Quintet in E, Op. 11, No. 5 (G 275), and the Cello Concerto in B flat major (G 482). This last work was long known in the heavily altered version by German cellist and prolific arranger Friedrich Grützmacher, but has recently been restored to its original version. Boccherini composed several guitar quintets including the "Fandango" which was influenced by Spanish music.
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.
There is a touch of the impetuous about Richard Lester's playing of these sonatas which seems to me to capture very happily their character: their somewhat wayward invention, their sense of being formalized versions of a cellist's improvisations. The momentary hesitancies hint at the playercomposer who is deciding as he goes which of the ideas in his mind to try out next. Yet beneath it is a strong rhythm and a very sure compositional technique. The music is very high lying: the cellist has prolonged spells in high thumb positions with quite rapid passagework, and these Lester executes with great brilliance and crispness — there is just one passage, in the finale of the C major work, where accuracy of intonation momentarily eludes him, but otherwise one cannot imagine playing of greater exactitude.
Among his many famous and beloved concertos, Vivaldi wrote no fewer than twenty-seven for the cello an instrument that at the time was generally consigned to playing basso continuo. With the genuine virtuosi he had available to him at the Ospedale della Pietà, the Prete Rosso played a key role in the emancipation of the cello. On this new CD of Vivaldi concertos, acclaimed cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras is supported by the musicians of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in a fascinating program that is further enhanced by a selection of highly expressive Sinfonias by Antonio Caldara.
On Haydn & Mysliveček Cello Concertos, American cellist Wendy Warner, a protégé of Mstislav Rostropovich, and Camerata Chicago, conducted by its British-born founder, Drostan Hall, present Franz Josef Haydn’s essential C Major and D Major Cello Concertos, harmoniously paired with a genuine rarity: the C Major Cello Concerto of Czech composer Josef Mysliveček (1737–1781), a Haydn contemporary.