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Pablo Casals (1876-1973) Encores and Transcriptions 2

NAXOS 8.110976 [74.47]

Pablo Casals (1876-1973) Encores and Transcriptions 2
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Musette [Gavotte from the English Suite No. 6] BWV 811 arr. Pollain
Komm süsser Tod from Schemelli Gesangbuch arr. Siloti
Sonata No. 2 in A minor for unaccompanied violin BWV 1003 – Andante arr. Siloti
Air from Orchestral Suite No 3 in D major BWV 1068 arr. Siloti
Giovanni SGAMBATI (1841-1914)

Serenata napoletana Op. 24 No. 2 arr. Bouman
David POPPER (1843-1913)

Mazurka Op. 11 No. 3
Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916)

Spanish Dance No. 5 arr. Casals
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)

Cello Concerto in D major – Grave ed espressivo

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)

Concerto Grosso in D minor Op. 3 No. 11 from L’Estro Armonico – Largo arr. Stutschewsky
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Sonata No. 6 in A major for Cello and keyboard – Adagio and Allegro
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Song without Words No. 49 in D major Op. 109
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Songs my mother taught me [Gypsy Songs Op. 55 No. 4] arr. Grünfeld
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

Flight of the bumblebee [Tsar Saltan]
Giuseppe VALENTINI (1680-1740)

Gavotte from Violin Sonata No. 10 in E major arr. Piatti

Tonadilla arr. Cassadó
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)

Minuet from Sonatina for Violin and Viola in C major arr. Piatti
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Träumerei [from Kinderszenen Op. 15]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Minuet No 2 in G major [6 Minuets WoO 10 or Violin]
Coriolan Overture Op. 62 +
Pablo Casals (cello) with variously
Nicolai Mednikoff (piano)
Blas Net (piano)
Otto Schulhoff (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Pablo Casals (conductor) +
Recorded 1927-30
NAXOS 8.110976 [74.47]

Picking up from the earlier release this is the second and final volume in Naxos’s Casals ‘Encores and Transcription’ series. It’s concluded in fact by an orchestral item, Casals’ recording of the Coriolan Overture with the London Symphony Orchestra. Casals started his recording career in 1915, though he always maintained he’d recorded much earlier, around the turn of the century. He began with Columbia, and just before the arrival of electric recording he switched to Victor in America and HMV in London. As before his novel and revolutionary vibrato usage comes under close scrutiny and that vocalised legato which he occasionally spun out with such daring elasticity demonstrate why he was the premier cellist of his generation.

It’s not just the tonal qualities of course; he characterises with such individuality and personality. Pollain’s arrangement of Bach’s Gavotte from the English Suite No. 6, renamed Musette, is accomplished with the most tripping of articulation and Sgambati’s Serenata napoletana is full of pizzicato wit and legato depth. The Granados is in Casals’ own arrangement and contrasts agreeably with the arrangement for violin; his is more meditative but the violin versions tend to soar and are more sweeping. When we move from Camden, New Jersey where the recordings were quite adequate, to Barcelona there is a distinct drop in quality. There’s a muffled patina to them that never obscures Casals (try the expressive portamenti and variegated speed of vibrato usage in the Tartini) but does sound less attractive. Without Casals’ leadership things such as extracts from Vivaldi and Boccherini Concertos and Sonatas would not have been quite so forthcoming on disc – and the examples here are exceptionally interesting exemplars of romanticised phrasing and nuance. His Bach Komm süsser Tod is very slow and rapt – though, in violinistic terms, no real match for Huberman’s oratorical fervour in this arrangement. One hears the level of his identification with his characteristic and pervasive grunting (he really lets loose in the Dvořák.

The Schumann is the more familiar and well-known London recording (the rarer earlier one was in the previous volume) and we end not with an encore but an overture, Coriolan, another striking example of Casals the conductor – and no wonder Boult, amongst many, valued him so highly in this role. Most of Casals’ acoustics and early electrics have now been collated by Naxos and Biddulph recently and collectors need not hesitate.

Jonathan Woolf


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