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Britten’s Cello Symphony is at the end of a chain of works written for Rostropovich, starting with Myaskovsky’s cello sonata in 1949. Slava played the sonata at a recital at which Prokofiev was present, and Prokofiev immediately agreed to write a work for him. His Sinfonia Concertante was premiered with Shostakovich in the audience, who, in turn composed his 1st cello concerto for Rostropovich. Now it was Britten’s turn, and the composer called on Rostropovich at his hotel the next day to discuss the proposed composition.
Premiered in 1963, the title of the work accurately describes the nature of the music. Although having a virtuoso solo part, the orchestra is an equal. As in a symphony the opening movement is spacious and the thematic material of the last two movements is shared, making them form an elaborate finale.
Pieter Wispelwey’s 3rd recording for Onyx. Also available, Walton Violin Concerto ONYX4042, and Schubert Arpeggione Sonata and other works ONYX4046
17th June 2010
“Pieter Wispelwey's notes to his recording suggest he has a sense of mission about performing [the Cello Symphony], and both he and...Seikyo Kim certainly go about their task with great commitment...Wispelwey is equally committed and accomplished in the first of Britten's three cello suites”
13th June 2010
“The sensibility is relentlessly astringent, the writing shot through with a dark, Dowlandish melancholy, even though the textures are transparent and even expressionistically vibrant...The balance between soloist and orchestra seems on a continuous knife edge, but Wispelwey and the conductor, Seikyo Kim, maintain a fierce control. It’s a captivating account”
27th June 2010
“Peter Wispelwey's refined tone makes a virtue of the work's uncertainties, negotiating its vacillations between introspection and display. The Flanders Symphony Orchestra and Seikyo Kim provide intelligent support”
27th June 2010
“Pieter Wispelwey's intelligent, penetrating musicianship and lyrical commitment will surely give [the Cello Symphony] a new lease of life, especially with the precise, sharp support of the Flanders Symphony Orchestraled by Seikyo Kim. Alongside it, the solo suite makes a dramatic story, well told.”
“it's thrilling to find a recording that shines a light into [the Cello Symphony's] aqueous depths: here is a reading of wonderful precision, colour and vitality...[Wispelwey] brings an innate understanding of Britten's voice, liberating both its power to shock and to sing with virile energy, finesse and a seemingly elastic bow.”
“Wispelwey has risen to the challenge...His tone's capacity for dark malevolence, shown to such effect on his previous disc of Walton's Cello Concerto, is exercised here to the full...[Suite No. 1] is bursting with contemplative beauty, instinctive phrasing, full-toned radiance, and sure technique.”
Awards Issue 2010
“[Wispelwey's] appreciation for Britten's idiom is impressive and both these performances...are deeply considered...The performance of the Cello Symphony is pensive, brooding, cast in sombre colours...As one might expect, the Cello Suite No. 1 is played with similar maturity.”
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