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
Recorded May 1999
Naxos 8.554657 [55:53]
UK £4.99 AmazonUS
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.