By late summer of 1837, the 27-year-old Schumann was secretly engaged to his beloved Clara Wieck. The powerful emotions connected with this event were a stimulus to Schumann’s creative impulses, for he was a Romantic through & through. It was at this time that he composed the deeply personal Davidsbundlertanze -18 dances inspired by the imaginary league of David. This fellowship, invented by Schumann, consisted of Schumann’s own alter egos, plus a number of well-respected musicians & friends including Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The group was established as a way of fighting against the Philistines; it was Schumann’s response to contemporary musical trends which he saw as cheap, excessively virtuosic, & superficial.
It's a real pity that most people's knowledge of Rossini begins and ends with the operas. Few people know that he actually wrote volumes of high-quality music for solo piano and chamber ensembles. No, Rossini is no Brahms or Schumann; don't expect heavy-duty Germanic introspection. What you can expect, however, is unfailing wit, humor, brilliance, humanity, and honesty written by a man who had seen and done just about everything in his long and eventful life.
Pieter Wispelwey and his gut-string cello partner for a second time with Paolo Giacometti in a programme of Chopin and Mendelssohn. But there is a another great musical figure on this disc – the cellist and composer Karl Davidoff, who studied with Moscheles and Mendelssohn’s violinist and composer friend Ferdinand David. Davidoff’s brilliant arrangements of the Chopin Waltzes Op. 64 form a sparkling interlude between Mendelssohn’s brilliant 2nd sonata, and Chopin’s late and great sonata for cello and piano.
The compositions on this CD encompass an entire century; all of them are French. Of course, they do not represent the entire range of a century of French cello music, but on the other hand they are all completely un-German! I thought that it would be a good idea to offer the listener of the late 1990s a sort of double upbeat for the masterly Chopin Sonata, in this way arriving at the 1840s by means of two successive steps. The Poulenc Sonata, although dating from 1948, is more a reflection of the Paris of the 1920s anti-aesthetic decadence and coolly presented cabaret-style sentiment. The work is remarkable for its refined surrealism, tinged with an intriguing hint of Catholic irony and seduction in the slow movement, and the moments in the last movement where the energy, for the first time, acquires a sarcastic tint, succeeded by an even more macabre quality which evokes Prokofiev…..
- Pieter Wispelwey