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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Classical Cello Concertos

CD1
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor Wq. 170 (H.432)
Cello Concerto No. 3 in A major Wq. 172 (H.439)
Cello Concerto No. 2 in B flat major Wq. 171 (H.436)
Balázs Máté (cello)
Concerto Armonico/Péter Szüts
On authentic instruments Recording: 1995 Licensed from Hungaroton, Hungary. Brilliant Classics DDD STEMRA 92198/1
CD2
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Cello Concerto in E flat major, No.12 (G deest)
Cello Concerto in G major, No.7 (G 480)
Cello Concerto in A major, No.2 (G 475)
Cello Concerto in C major, No.11 (G 573)
Julius Berger (cello)
South-West German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim/Vladislav Czarnecki
Recording: 1988, Matthäuskirche, Pforzheim, Germany. Producer: Teije van Geest Licensed from EBS, Germany Brilliant Classics DDD STEMRA 92198/2
CD3
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Cello Concerto in D major, No.6 (G 479)
Cello Concerto in B flat major, No.9 (G 482)
Cello Concerto in C major, No.4 (G 477)
Cello Concerto in D major, No.3 (G 476)
Julius Berger (cello)
South-West German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim/Vladislav Czarnecki
Recording: 1988, Matthäuskirche, Pforzheim, Germany. Producer: Teije van Geest Licensed from EBS, Germany Brilliant Classics DDD STEMRA 92198/3
CD4
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
Cello Concerto in D major, No.5 (G 478)
Cello Concerto in E flat major, No.1 (G 474)
Cello Concerto in C major, No.8 (G 481)
Cello Concerto in D major, No.10 (G 483)
Julius Berger (cello)
South-West German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim/Vladislav Czarnecki
Recording: 1988, Matthäuskirche, Pforzheim, Germany. Producer: Teije van Geest Licensed from EBS, Germany Brilliant Classics DDD STEMRA 92198/4
CD5
Leonardo LEO (1694-1744)

Cello Concerto in D major (L 10)
Cello Concerto in A major (L 20)
Sinfonie concertante for cello and strings in C minor (L 30)
Julius Berger (cello)
South-West German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim/Vladislav Czarnecki
Recording: 29-31 May 1999, Kirnbachhalle, Niefern-Öschelbronn, Germany. Producer & engineer: Reinhard Geller Licensed from EBS, Germany Brilliant Classics DDD STEMRA 92198/5
CD6
Leonardo LEO (1694-1744)

Cello Concerto in F minor (L 40)
Cello Concerto in A major (L 50)
Cello Concerto in D minor (L 60)
Julius Berger (cello)
South-West German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim/Vladislav Czarnecki
Recording: 5-7 July 1999, Kirnbachhalle in Niefern-Öschelbronn, Germany. Producer & engineer: Reinhard Geller Licensed from EBS, Germany Brilliant Classics DDD STEMRA 92198/6
CD7
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto in D major Hob. VIIb: 2
Cello Concerto in C major Hob. VIIb: 1
Miklós Perényi (cello)
Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra/János Rolla
Recording: 1979 Producer: Zoltán Hézser Licensed from Hungaroton, Hungary. Brilliant Classics ADD STEMRA 92198/7
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92198 [7 CDs: 68:57 + 63:26 + 72:37 + 74:42 + 37:21 + 44:03 + 50:38]


AVAILABILITY

Brilliant Classics


Brilliant are proving to have quite a knack for collating previously – and disparately – recorded discs and collecting them in boxed sets. This frequently causes headaches for collectors who find unequally yoked items but Brilliant’s are temptingly cheap collections and this one poses no seriously problematic questions. These are all very recommendable performances and derive from Hungaroton and EBS discs.

The first disc is of three Concertos by C.P.E. Bach played by Balázs Máté with the Concerto Armonico under Péter Szüts. They take a pleasingly lithe approach with an apposite and tasteful harpsichord continuo. Violin lines are shapely in the first movement of the A minor and the bass line is linear but lightly etched. Máté proves from the start that his elegance is matched by flexibility, digital and musical, and allows Andantes to flow at natural tempos. That of the A minor is distinguished also by a fine concentrated tone. In the rather more off-beat A major he and Szüts manage the strictures of legato solo and occasionally eccentric orchestral tutti extremely well. They find real gravity without sentimentality or generic gesture in the slow movement (marked Largo con sordini, mesto). Its relative harmonic complexity and expressive clarity are both demarcated with acumen. The high spirited finale – this is a really attractive and convincing traversal of an equally fine work – is full of precisely executed passagework. C.P.E. Bach had a powerful ability to cloak the emotive heart of a work in a degree of speculative formal ambiguity. That’s certainly the case with the B flat major where it flirts with expressive gesture and then allows the soloist to plunge into the lower register for maximal effect.

Boccherini enjoys three discs, with twelve authenticated concertos, all essayed by the team of Julius Berger and the South-West German Chamber Orchestra, Pforzheim under Vladislav Czarnecki. These are engaging works probably unknown to many (though many will know the actually spurious Boccherini Concerto that Casals and de Machula recorded back in the 1930s and 1940s). Berger, an adroit cellist, plays well especially at the top of his register where his intonation is secure but I find his tone sometimes rather nasal. He employs expressive diminuendi in the Largo of the E flat major (G deest) even if the strings of the modern instrument South-West German Chamber Orchestra sound thin in the ensuing Allegro (and sometimes elsewhere). They are at their best in something like the Adagio of the G major (G480) where there is intensity without coagulation or the way Berger isn’t afraid to coarsen his tone in the Allegro comodo of the C major (G573). Despite my strictures, there is real buoyancy in their playing of the D major (G 479) and some humorous hesitations in the Rondo allegro of G482, in B flat major. Perhaps the high points of this third disc are the rather beautiful orchestral introduction to the Largo of the C major and the flute sonorities of the D major, which blend imperceptibly with the strings.

Leonardo Leo, the prolific Neapolitan, contributes two discs’ worth to the set and very attractive they prove to be. He writes with spirited grazioso generosity and has a sparkling humour that vests some of these concerti with more than usual perkiness. Certainly he is quite capable of elegant formality but in, say, the fourth movement of the (unusually) five movement Concerto in D major (L10) he writes a masterly little Fugue, unexpected and cleverly thought through in the schema of the work. Similarly in the larghetto of the consistently intelligent Sinfonie concertante (L30) the step-up, ascending writing is curiously measured and affecting. Leo was an operatic and sacred composer of some renown. One can hear, in the opening movement of L40, the Concerto in F minor, how well he had absorbed the ‘galant’ style and how adeptly he infused it into these works, written for the Duke of Maddaloni, himself a cellist of note. This Concerto is perhaps one of the most impressive of the entire set, with a slow movement barely four minutes long but of real compact refinement, added to which the harmonic sophistication is considerable. Leo reserves outbursts for the orchestral tuttis and deploys undeniable skill in his balancing of material and effect. Something of the same thing can be heard in the solo and tutti divisions in the Allegro second movement of the A major (L50) where Berger impresses through subtly varied colouration and stress in repeated notes that give life and lift to these passages. And so to the Amoroso of L60 in D minor, in which we can hear once more how Leo’s affecting lyricism, all the more affecting for being so underplayed, is moulded and graded and takes on a quiet nobility all its own.

The final disc brings us rather more familiar names all round in the form of Haydn from Miklós Perényi and the Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra with János Rolla. These records are now, unbelievably, getting on for twenty-five years old. Perényi takes an altogether more romanticised approach than his colleagues in their recordings – and this is especially true of the accompanying orchestral sound-world under Rolla. The cellist is quite elastic over tempi, particularly in the opening of the D major, and phrases attractively in the slow movement of the same work, though maybe less convincingly in the companion concerto’s Adagio. His rhythm is however well sprung and entirely reliable, his tone seldom less than warm and nourishing and his ethos one of romanticised affection tempered by discretion. As such it’s rather an "odd one out" disc in a set of this kind where the other performers tend to take a more lean and taut view.

Jonathan Woolf

See also review by Michael Cookson



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