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Pablo CASALS (1876-1973) - Encores and Transcriptions: Volume 2
Naxos - Historical Great Cellists Series - Casals
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Pollain

1) English Suite No. 6, BWV 811: Gavotte
Giovanni SGAMBATI ( 1841-1914 ) arr. Bouman

2) Serenata napoletana, Op. 24, No. 2
David POPPER (1843-1913)
3) Mazurka, Op. 11, No. 3
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) arr. Casals

4) Spanish Dance

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)

5) Cello Concerto in D major: Grave ed espressivo
Gaspar CASSADO (1897-1966)

6) Requiebros

Antonio VIVALDI (1675-1741)

7) L'estro armonico: Concerto Grosso in D minor, Op. 3, No. 11: Largo
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Siloti

8) Schemelli Gesangbuch: Komm susser Tod

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

9) Sonata No. 6 in A major: Adagio
10) Sonata No. 6 in A major: Allegro
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

11) Song without words No. 49 in D major, Op. 109
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Siloti

12) Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003: Andante
Antonín DVOŘÁK ( 1841-1904) arr. Grunfeld
13) Seven Gypsy Songs, Op. 55: No. 4, Songs My Mother Taught Me
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

14) Tsar Saltan: Flight of the Bumblebee

Giuseppe VALENTINI (1680-1759) arr. Piatti

15) Violin Sonata No. 10 in E major: Gavotte
Blas de LASERNA (1751-1816) arr. Cassado

16) Tonadilla

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) arr. Piatti

17) Sonata for Violin and Viola in C major: Minuet
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Siloti
18) Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: Air
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
19) Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Traumerei
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN ( 1770-1827)
20) Six Minuets, WoO 10: Minuet No. 2 in G major
Bonus Track: Casals Conducts Beethoven

21) Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
Pablo Casals (cello)
Nicolai Mednikoff (piano) tracks 1-4
Blas Net (piano) tracks 5-17
Otto Schulhoff (piano) tracks 18-20
London Symphony Orchestra/Pablo Casals (conductor) track 21
Historical recordings made at various locations between 1927-1930 ADD
NAXOS 8.110976 [74.47]

The author of the interesting and informative booklet accompanying this release makes a thought-provoking statement that there are only a small number of works written for the cello. I have heard similar remarks made on previous occasions and I feel strongly that this is not the case. I have a list in my possession that includes works that feature the cello as a solo or duo instrument. In other words solo cello works, cello sonatas, cello duos and cello concertos etc. The list actually numbers several hundred cello works and indicates that the vast majority of composers wrote for the cello; some relatively prolifically. Beethoven for example wrote five cello sonatas and three works for cello and piano based on themes from popular Mozart and a Handel opera.

So in fact it would be more accurate to state that only a few works for cello are played. Performers and concert programmers prefer to play works that audiences are familiar with, so why take the chance on introducing works into concert programmes that people do not know and may not like. For example I have extracted from the cello list three well-known twentieth century composers: Hindemith, Reger and Martinů who jointly have written by my estimation over fifty works featuring the cello as a solo instrument. The great Pablo Casals, featured on this release, was no exception as he normally played the established cello repertoire, even frequently using cello transcriptions of other works that people already knew. I know that many eminent cellists commissioned or had numerous cello works written specifically for them but I wonder just how many composers wrote cello works because they were inspired by the wonderful playing of virtuoso cellists from the same generation such as Casals, Piatigorsky, Cassado, Fournier, Pleeth, Rose et al.

This Naxos Historical release is the second volume of cello works comprising nine Encores and eleven Transcriptions played by Pablo Casals - the best known cellist of his generation. There seems little point in critically appraising each of the twenty short works which, if we are honest, were mostly recorded primarily as short trifles and lollipops. They range in duration from just over a minute in length to four and a half minutes. The point is that this recording is documentary proof that Casals had a very special gift. His playing is strong and consistently colourful, displaying virtually flawless control in the cello-line. He is clearly an innate interpreter par excellence. The soloist is generally thought of as being the creator of modern cello playing techniques and I was quite surprised that he uses more vibrato than I remembered. In Casals’ hey-day this Romantic approach must have been quite a shock for audiences used to a more Classical style. For some reason this release of cello works includes a ‘bonus track’ of Casals conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture recorded in 1927. I suppose that it is only fair to use the remaining space on the CD to demonstrate just how versatile the talents of Casals were.

These historical recordings were made by Casals between 1927 to 1930 and have been transferred and cleaned up to sound very acceptable by engineer Mark Obert-Thorn. The listener has been left with some background noise but nothing that the ear cannot quickly get used to.

A fine historical document of the wonderful playing of Pablo Casals. But mainly for cello aficionados.

Michael Cookson

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



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