> Concertos for Cello and Winds [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Mats LARSSON GOTHE (b.1965)

Concerto for cello and wind instruments (1999) [26.54]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)

Concerto for cello, winds, percussion and piano (1924) [13.37]
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)

Concerto for cello and wind instruments (1925) [13.18]
Hilding ROSENBERG (1892-1985)

Symphony for wind instruments and percussion (1966) [19.33]
Torleif Thedéen (cello)
Östgöta Blåsarsymfoniker/Herman Bäumer
rec 1-4 June 2000, Linköping Hall, Linköping, Sweden. DDD
BIS BIS-CD-1136 [74.35]


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I have a soft spot for concertos for unusual combinations. I trace this back to tangling with Rimsky-Korsakov's concert pieces for various solo instruments and windband (a Melodiya LP) and to a 1977 BBC broadcast of Gordon Jacob's Rhapsody for Piano and Brass Band (Valerie Tryon, GUS Band and Geoffrey Brand, 15 July 1977) - a resourceful work of plunging romanticism - well worth reviving. When this CD was announced I could not resist.

Bis have cradled two fairly gentle concertos between two works which offer some challenges to the listener. The first three works are cello concertos and the disc finishes with a symphony ... for wind band. The Rosenberg is in six movements, the Larsson Gothe in five. All save the Ibert are played continuously with no pause between movements.

Among the composer complement only Larsson Gothe is at all obscure. Written to a commission from this orchestra, his concerto is a tribute to Lutosławski's cello concerto. It takes the high A on which the Pole's concerto ends and uses that as its departure point. Five movements allow Gothe to expound and explore a ghoul-haunted expressionistic dreamscape. Admirers of the Cello Symphony by Britten or of the superb Sallinen concerto are sure to find this to their liking. The half hour work is dedicated to Thedéen.

After the gaunt twentieth century avant-garde-isms of the Gothe, the Martinů is a celebratory holiday of a piece even when it delves into pessimistic caprice in the andante. This is a work from the Paris years so although certain mannerisms are on show do not expect the full Martinů article. Stravinsky's gamin jazziness is in the ascendant. Ibert is altogether more welcoming with pastoral folk voices. The woodwind emphasise this in perky and lilting 'shepherd pipe' tones. This is all laced with the tang of popular culture.

The Rosenberg is an opportune cuckoo in this company. For a start it is not a cello concerto. Termed a ‘symphony’ it takes the Rosenberg symphonies to the forbidding number nine. It was written for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation for a Cullberg ballet The Tower of Babel and was issued as a symphony shortly afterwards. This is not the Rosenberg of the 1940s so what you get is as expressionistic as the Larsson Gothe but in orchestration that is sparer, raucous, scouring, sardonically militaristic, capricious - rather like a mating between Nielsen's clarinet concerto, Weill and Herrmann's Rosebud music.

The Gothe is, I feel, a significant work that will deepen on repeat hearings. The Martinů and Ibert remain entertaining; the Ibert more so. The Rosenberg is rather dry and objective but essential to an understanding of his still neglected music.

Production values, annotation and recording quality are well up to Bis's usual enviable standards.
Rob Barnett


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