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Note: Some composers who were born before 1780 (and whose concertos are therefore included in that timeline) wrote concertos with a known date in the 19th century. Such concertos are also included above. Concertos for which a date could not be found but which must have been written in the 19th century are listed below. Composers who lived into the 20th century with undated concertos are included in this appendix of undated concertos, all of which will have been written after about 1850. The list is ordered by composer birth date and some of those towards the top of the list are very likely to have been written in the 19th century.
Undated 19th century concertos:
Dotzauer (1783-1860) dates unknown for nine concertos (unrecorded) Gross (1809-1848) dates unknown for two concertos (unrecorded) Franco-Mendčs (1816-1889) dates unknown for concertos 1-2 (unrecorded) Goltermann (1824-1898) dates unknown for concertos 2-8 (all unrecorded except the third) L.Grützmacher (1835-1900) date unknown for second concerto (unrecorded) Swert (1843-1891) date unknown for third concerto (unrecorded) Fitzenhagen (1848-1890) dates unknown for third and fourth concertos (unrecorded)
A total of 136 cello concertos from the 19th century were identified, 58 (43%) of which have been recorded and 78 appear to be unrecorded. This timeline is perhaps the most remarkable of all because of the sparsity of the cello concerto in the first half of the century and the almost complete absence of them in 1820s - when Beethoven was writing his late, great works. There are various possible explanations e.g. perhaps a relative lack of virtuoso cellists but, whatever the reason, it seems that very little from that time has survived into our musical consciousness 200 years later. There may be cello concertos from the period that have survived in museums and libraries but there seems to be little evidence of them on the internet.
Until Schumann wrote his famous concerto in 1850, Weber and Offenbach are the only reasonably well-known composers of cello concertos in half a century. The other major concertos of the century and ones that have been frequently recorded are those by Saint-Saëns in 1872, Lalo in 1877 and Dvořák’s B minor in 1895. Two of the great cellists of the period, Davydov and Popper, each wrote four concertos that have all been recorded and are worth exploring. Even more so perhaps are the Klengel concertos, three of the four of which have now been recorded. Also worth mentioning are the concertos by Raff and Herbert, both of whom wrote two, and Gretchaninov’s lone work. All these works date from the latter half of the century; from the early part of the century Gross’s Op.38 and the Rietz concerto, usefully paired on one disc (see below) seem the most interesting.
DvořákSteven Isserlis is an obvious choice for both concertos and Rostropovich with Giulini is one of the great recordings of the B minor. Foote The only recording of this work by Douglas Moore was on LP and will be hard to find but can be heard on YouTube. It deserves a modern recording.
Gretchaninov The premiere recording of an interesting late romantic four movement concerto played by Alexander Ivashkin.
Herbert Two fine late romantic concertos played by Lynn Harrell. Jaëll A premiere recording by Xavier Phillips of what is probably the first cello concerto by a female composer, and a very lyrical one too.
Klengel The recording of the third by Raphaela Gromes is excellent. Let’s hope that we will soon be able to hear the unrecorded second.
Lalo I was surprised by how many recordings of this work are available. Julian Lloyd-Webber has pride of place in my collection.
Raff Two lyrical concertos very well played by Daniel Müller-Schott. Rietz and Gross From a very fallow period for the cello concerto these works stand out in fine performances from Klaus-Dieter Brandt.
Saint-Saëns All of his music for cello and orchestra on a single bargain priced disc played by Gabriel Schwabe. Schumann For great fervour in the outer movements Casals live at Prades with Ormandy in 1953 is hard to beat. If you prefer a more restrained approach, I would recommend Alban Gerhardt. Vieuxtemps As interesting as his better known violin concertos, both cello concertos played by Wen-Sinn Yang are highly recommendable. Project Home Page