The major work here is the arrangement of Grieg's Cello
Sonata as a cello concerto, as a result of the skilful work of Joseph
Horovitz and Benjamin Wallfisch. The latter is also responsible for
the majority of the orchestral versions of the beautifully crafted miniatures
that complete this appealing collection.
Grieg's Cello Sonata is a relatively early work, dating
from 1883 and constructed on quite a substantial scale in excess of
thirty minutes. There is some marvellous writing for the solo instrument,
both rich in tone and lyrical in line, and Wallfisch is at the top of
his eloquent form. Of course the big question is: 'How contrived does
the music seem when inflated to concerto proportions?' The answer to
that question can be handled with confidence, in that it is doubtful
whether anyone who did not know the original would be aware that the
concerto was originally conceived not for orchestra but as a duo for
cello and piano. All credit then to all involved, including the committed
performers. The Black Box recording too serves the music well, with
a nicely judged balance between solo and ensemble.
If the music has a weakness it is that the attempts
at structural unity seem all too contrived, though in this performance
at least there is a spontaneity about the phrasing which brings out
the individuality of the material itself. The slow movement is at once
eloquent and tender, while each of the outer movements has abundant
vitality, and interesting contrasts between the solo line and the orchestra.
No wonder this piece has made headway in the concerto repertoire in
recent years - it is well worth hearing and does considerable justice
to Grieg's inventiveness.
The remainder of the disc is given over to more arrangements,
now of various short items drawn from all manner of sources, including
a couple of lyrical pieces from the Peer Gynt incidental music. The
arrangers are Benjamin Wallfisch (for the most part) and Michael Freyhan.
Again the subtly crafted music lends itself well to new identities,
and while none of this programme can be classed as great music all of
it is charming and entertaining, and some pieces, like the beautiful
Solveig's song, have a vein of the deepest tenderness. Wallfisch and
LPO play with distinction, sensitivity and earnest commitment of the
highest order. This is a most pleasing disc, though there is room still
for the cello and piano original of the concerto on the shelf of any