Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Romantic Cello Showpieces
Im Walde (suite for cello & orchestra)
Requiem (for three cellos & orchestra)
Hungarian Rhapsody and other works

Maria Kliegel (cello) with
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
Gerhard Markson
Recorded May 1999
Naxos 8.554657 [55:53]

 £4.35   Amazon UK  £4.99 AmazonUS   CDNow $5.99

Cellists, though probably few others, will recognise the name of the Prague-born composer David Popper (1843-1913). A virtuoso cellist himself, he wrote extensively for the instrument, though today his works are rarely heard in the concert hall.

In the 15 tracks on this disc, most of them no longer than four minutes in duration, he reveals a sure mastery of the cello and a fluent idiom redolent of Schumann and Brahms. Miniatures such as Gnomes' Dance, Papillon and Gavotte are deftly characterised salon pieces. The jolly Round Dance (one of the six movements of Im Walde) displays both charm and vitality. On the other hand the unusually-scored Requiem for three cellos and orchestra (in which Maria Kliegel is joined by Caroline Stinson and Johann Ludwig) shows a deeper and darker side to his musical language, and Spinning Song and the Liszt-inspired Hungarian Rhapsody (for a time he was married to Sophie Menter, Liszt's most famous woman pupil) are vehicles for fiery virtuosity which the soloist exploits with consummate ease. Her warmth of tone and agile fingerwork are sustained throughout this pleasant if undemanding disc.

The contents list states simply that the works on the disc (all of them?) have been orchestrated - and in fine style - by one Peter Breiner. Since Popper wrote four cello concertos, one supposes that he did write for orchestra: more information on this point would have been welcome. No information is provided on either conductor or orchestra.

The sound quality is good and the balance between soloist and orchestra excellent.

Adrian Smith



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