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CD: Crotchet AmazonUK

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Cello Concerto [22:06]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Rococo Variations [17:49]
Friedrich GULDA (1930-2000)
Concerto for cello and wind band (1980) [31:02]
Nicolas Altstaedt (cello)
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Alexander Joel
rec. Ludwigshafen, Philharmonie, 3-7 November 2008. DDD
CLAVES 50-2901 [70:57]
Experience Classicsonline

Claves provide a showcase for a very talented cellist. The Schumann and Tchaikovsky speak of one facet of his character; the Gulda appeals to the wild and hairily unpredictable. We start with the Schumann - not my favourite work for cello and orchestra. To make this work sing and hold the attention needs special qualities. It’s sparse dramatic fibre contrasts with page after page of romantic soliloquy. In fact Alstaedt makes the music hold the attention. You are conscious of great attention to detail and of the finding of nuance - even the creation of nuance. The cellist’s attention to expressive detail registers time after time in one of Schumann’s least inspired and inspiring works.

It is well known that Tchaikovsky adored the music of Mozart and his Fourth Orchestral Suite is entitled Mozartiana. He also envied Mozart’s operatic legacy and strove to make the same impact - ultimately with only limited success judged from today’s viewpoint. The most Mozartean of his orchestral works is the intricate and episodic Rococo Variations. Alstaedt revels in the work’s lace and brocade and time and again one is impressed by his caring and attentive way with one of Tchaikovsky’s least torrid works. Then a change of gear. It’s not a massively populated genre but I do rather warm to the Rock cello concerto. I say “Not massively populated” but in fact I can only think of one other and that too is a work of which I think very highly. I have in mind here the Swedish composer, Svante Henryson’s six movement piece for cello and full orchestra: Songs from the Milky Way. It’s on Intim Musik’s IMCD072 played by the composer with the Västerås Sinfonietta conducted by Glenn Mossop, Lennart Simonsson (piano), Sven Lindvall (electric bass) and Jonas Sjoblom (drums).

Friedrich Gulda
’s Concerto for cello and wind band is something of a pastiche-collage which moves between visceral rock-vehement and Mozartean Dresden-china delicacy. It’s just a touch sentimental. The work was written for Heinrich Schiff - who’d have thought it! Fine stereo separation completes the picture and renders in ticklingly varied detail the roles of soloist and orchestra.

Rob Barnett


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