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The Romantic Cello Concerto

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 7: Fitzenhagen & Tchaikovsky

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 7: Fitzenhagen & Tchaikovsky


Fitzenhagen:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in B minor, Op. 2

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 2 in A minor, Op. 4

Ballade 'Concertstück', Op. 10

Resignation 'Ein geistliches Lied ohne Worte', Op. 8

Tchaikovsky:

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33

arr. Wilhelm Fitzenhagen


The music of Wilhelm Fitzenhagen bursts into the Hyperion catalogue with two triumphant cello concertos, a couple of other original works, and his (in)famous version of the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations. Ace cellist Alban Gerhardt presides.

“Vital exuberance - the sort one usually associates only with a live recording - is matched by playing of lyrical grace. Once you have these in place and an orchestral partnership of utter conviction, it is hard to see how Fitzhagen's concertos can have been ignored for so long.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2015

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 6: Ysaye & Vieuxtemps

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 6: Ysaye & Vieuxtemps


Vieuxtemps:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 46

Cello Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 50

Ysaÿe:

Méditation pour violoncelle et orchestre, Op. 16

Sérénade pour violoncelle et orchestre, Op. 22


Alban Gerhardt (cello)

Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Josep Caballé-Domenech

Hyperion’s blossoming Romantic Cello Concerto series welcomes back German virtuoso Alban Gerhardt for this sixth volume. Henry Vieuxtemps and Eugène Ysaÿe are of course best known for their blistering pyrotechnics on the violin, but each of this eminent teacher-and-pupil pairing also wrote two works—little known today, alas—for cello and orchestra, and what a revelation they are. The two Vieuxtemps Concertos contain all the elements familiar from their famous violin counterparts—long-arched melodies alongside moments of outrageous virtuoso demands. The Ysaÿe works are shorter and make ideal companions.

Gerhardt rises to the formidable challenges presented by these composers. Sympathetic orchestral support comes from the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (compatriots of the two composers) and Josep Caballé-Domenech, making his Hyperion conducting debut.

“The elegance that Vieuxtemps displayed in his violin concertos is on show here, with graceful melodies, and some more showy passages. These are never gratuitous, however, and are expertly written for the instrument...In many ways the shorter works by Ysaÿe suit [Gerhardt] best of all.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 ****

“[the Vieuxtemps works] certainly know their way round the cello and are characterised by strength of ideas, a supple expressiveness and a sure dramatic instrinct. So much so that it is hard to see why they have not entered the mainstream repertoire...these performances...never fail to hold one's attention.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“Alban Gerhardt…brings his glowing tone and unfailing technique to bear on these scores, showing himself equally at home in the music's more sensational moments (serving up a remarkable level of detail without sacrificing a sense of line) and its more expressive passages.” International Record Review, March 2015

“Vieuxtemps seems to have been able to enter the expressive and technical world of the cello with an instinctive ease...Gerhardt plays them with affection and terrific aplomb, echoed by Vieuxtemps’s Belgian countrymen in the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under the spirited baton of the Spanish conductor Josep Caballé-Domenech.” The Telegraph, 1st February 2015 ****

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 5: Saint-Saëns

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 5: Saint-Saëns


Saint-Saëns:

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 119

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

La Muse et le Poète, Op. 132

Antje Weithaas (violin)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

Allegro Appassionato in B minor Op. 43

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Manze

Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne

Julia Lynch (piano) & Judith Keaney (piano)


Natalie Clein adds a remarkable collection of Saint-Saëns’ music for cello and orchestra to her impressive discography. Clein first came to prominence when she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year award in 1994; it is appropriate that she performs the music of an extraordinary child prodigy.

The first cello concerto has always been one of Saint-Saëns’ most popular pieces, Casals choosing it for his London debut in 1905. It is a gloriously playful piece that carries the listener along on a melodic and emotional rollercoaster, from the jaunty opening to the eloquence of the second movement minuet, with a persistent yearning threading its way throughout. The second concerto will be less familiar to listeners. The soloist for whom it was written, Joseph Hollman, was an energetic, muscular player and Saint-Saëns seems here to turn his back on the suave style of the first concerto. When Saint-Saëns’ pupil and friend Gabriel Fauré chose the concerto as a Conservatoire test piece, the composer was duly grateful, but admitted ‘it will never be as well known as the first; it’s too difficult’. This it certainly is, with many solo passages, huge leaps and runs that require two staves to accommodate them, and a large amount of doublestopping. Natalie Clein meets these challenges with marvellous technique, musicianship and the passion for which she has become so well known.

“It is the light airiness of Natalie Clein's approach that works so well here...she finds a golden timbre and fleet elegance, matched by Andrew Manze and the effervescent BBC Scottish forces. This is as close as you'll get to musical champagne; I've a feeling Saint-Saens would have approved.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2014 ****

“this Hyperion programme has much going for it, not least in that it features the mature, sensitive artistry of Natalie Clein. Her spirit in this music is matched by that of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Manze, with passion, reflectiveness, architectural sweep and refinement in phrasing and dynamic colouring all finding common ground.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2014

BBC Music Magazine

Concerto Choice - October 2014

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 4: Pfitzner

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 4: Pfitzner


Pfitzner:

Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. posth.

Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 52

Cello Concerto in G major

Duo for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, Op. 43

with Gergana Gergova (violin)


Hyperion’s Romantic Cello Concerto series continues to bring new works into a repertoire currently dominated by Dvorák and Elgar. Alban Gerhardt performs the three concertos by Hans Pfitzner, a composer remembered most for his opera Palestrina.

Pfitzner’s early Cello Concerto in A minor, Op posth., was scorned by his teachers (although liked by the composer himself) and the manuscript disappeared during his lifetime. It was first performed in public on 18 February 1977 and published the following year. His Cello Concerto in G major, Op 42, was written almost half a century later. Completed in 1935, this richly melodic single span was composed for the cellist Gaspar Cassadó (1897–1966), one of the finest cellists of his generation. This beautifully constructed concerto derives its material from the lyrical cello solo (heard over a quiet timpani roll) at the very start of the work. The orchestration is deft and often delicate, never submerging the solo instrument, but full of attractive surprises, not least the tumbling trumpet fanfares that introduce the first of the faster sections. The Cello Concerto in A minor, Op 52, is dedicated to Ludwig Hoelscher (1907–1996), a pupil of two giants of German cello-playing: Hugo Becker and Julius Klengel. It was completed in 1943 and published in 1944. Also included is a Duo for violin, cello and small orchestra.

“Gerhardt holds it all together with his sustained singing lines, while Weigle and his Berlin band provide vividly pointillist backing.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 ****

“Gerhardt is an unfailingly charismatic soloist, finding a sense of purpose where others might lapse into aimlessness, and the orchestral support is first-rate.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2014

“Gerhardt, a composed and elegant player...is at one with these scores and takes them all in his stride...The excellent Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under Sebastian Weigle earns top marks as a constantly sympathetic partner.” MusicWeb International, 14th May 2014

“they belong, somewhat anachronistically, to Hyperion’s Romantic Cello Concertos, and Gerhardt plays them with enough conviction to make cello buffs want to give them a try.” Sunday Times, 30th March 2014

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 3: Stanford

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 3: Stanford


Stanford:

Cello Concerto in D minor (1879-80)

Rondo in F major for cello and orchestra

first recording

Ballata and Ballabile, Op. 160

first recording

Irish Rhapsody No. 3 for Cello and Orchestra Op. 13


Hyperion’s third disc in the Romantic Cello Concerto series sees the brilliant young cellist Gemma Rosefield making her label debut. She was the winner of the prestigious Pierre Fournier Award at Wigmore Hall in 2007 and has garnered great acclaim for her spirited playing.

Irish-born Charles Villiers Stanford is far better known for his choral music, but this disc of rarities reveals the composer’s original orchestral voice and his exceptional understanding of the relationship between soloist and orchestra. His Cello Concerto in D minor, with its continuous thematic development and lilting melodies, was a major landmark in the repertoire of British cello music and the overtly romantic Ballata and Ballabile displays an extraordinary lyricism.

Rosefield gives thoughtful performances throughout, her tone both beautifully consistent and richly hued, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra play with their usual aplomb. In these recordings it is difficult to understand why such well-proportioned and grateful writing for the solo cello has languished unplayed for so long.

“Stanford's sturdy, Brahmsian Cello Concerto and the folksong-rich Third Rhapsody are the highlights here, superbly played by Gemma Rosefield.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****

“[Rosefield] certainly has technique to burn (try the finale of the Concerto) and is sensitive to mood and atmosphere, delightfully so in the Rondo, but I should have liked a richer, more penetrating tone in the Concerto...Manze brings unexpected authority to the proceedings” Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 ***

“[Rosefield] plays with disarming character and freshness; her technique, too, is enviably sure and tone beguilingly rounded...Rosefield and Manze do [the Irish Rhapsody] proud. They also bring a comparable sensitivity and flair to the Ballata and Ballabile, a typically resourceful and charming diptych composed in 1918 for Beatrice Harrison. Admirable sound and truthful balance; another Hyperion winner!” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 2: Volkmann, Dietrich, Gernsheim & Schumann

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 2: Volkmann, Dietrich, Gernsheim & Schumann


Dietrich, A:

Cello Concerto in G minor, Op. 32

Gernsheim:

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 78

Schumann:

Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129

Volkmann:

Cellokonzert a-moll Op. 33


“Gerhardt invests Volkmann's mixture of melodic lyricism, wit and technical bravado with a brilliant sense of pacing…” BBC Music Magazine, April 2007 *****

“Alban Gerhardt throws himself into the fray with thrilling virtuoso abandon and the recording is out of Hyperion’s top drawer” Classic FM Magazine

“Alban Gerhardt’s playing is rich-toned, impeccably judged even in the most obscure works, and completely assured … [Dietrich]’s Cello Concerto is relatively accessible music but boasts plenty of subtlety and fine melodies; the Romance is a particular gem and must have been a joy to rediscover … Gerhardt’s performance makes it sound (in the best way) as if it had always been there … even for a Volume 1 this would have been a fine programme; for a Volume 2 it is indecently good and the performances are both brilliant and committed. I can only look forward to Volume 3” International Record Review

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The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 1: Dohnányi, Enescu & d'Albert

The Romantic Cello Concerto, Vol. 1: Dohnányi, Enescu & d'Albert


Albert, E:

Cello Concerto in C major Op. 20

Dohnányi:

Konzertstück in D major for Cello and Orchestra Op. 12

Enescu:

Symphonie concertante in B flat minor for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 8


“Heart-warming lyrical melodies, as well as characteristically resourceful orchestration, abound in the Dohnányi Konzertstück… Gerhardt's warmly recorded performance lays claim to being the most convincing of all… Eugen d'Albert also pursues the stylistic path of Brahms in his C major Cello Concerto. Once again, Gerhardt acquits himself admirably, making light work of the technical hurdles... Enescu's inexplicably neglected Symphonie Concertante is projected with the utmost conviction by Gerhardt and Kalmar and provides a fitting climax to a totally absorbing release.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2005 *****

“The lush lyricism and engaging virtuosity of the idiomatic solo writing is graced by a quite superb soloist of whom I hope we shall be hearing much more” Classic FM Magazine

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - September 2005

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