Haydn’s two Cello Concertos
seem to have their admirers and detractors in roughly equal numbers. I’m one of the former, especially since the discovery of the C-major concerto, now listed as No.1, in the 1960s, replaced the D-major in my affections. Despite the detractors, one or both concertos have not been without some distinguished recordings and the new version from Meneses can now be added to the list of recommendations. At over 70 minutes, too, it’s excellent value, especially by comparison with the EMI recording with Rostropovich and the Academy of St Martin’s, clocking in at a miserly 49 minutes, though the mid-price partly compensates (5672342).
Antonio Meneses’ performance of the C-major, which opens the new CD, is sprightly and stylish. Though the Northern Sinfonia play on modern instruments, as does Meneses himself, as far as I am aware, the performance represents an improvement in period awareness from that of Miloš Sádlo, the first to be available, on Supraphon (and briefly on Music for Pleasure) which introduced me to the work and which I’m sorry to see is no longer available, even as a download. I can’t recall how the violins were placed on that recording, but I’m pleased that they are divided here.
The Cello Concertino
by Meneses’ fellow Brazilian, Clóvis Pereira, which follows, is a tuneful and likeable work – which doesn’t at all mean that it’s superficial. It’s described by Pereira himself in the notes as in quasi-baroque style. I very much enjoyed hearing it as a bridge providing variety between the two Haydn works and would like to hear more of his music. I found the rhapsodic slow movement especially attractive. That composer note is, however, all too brief: it doesn’t even give the composition date, and I would have liked Pereira to explain the marking Aboio (Adagio)
for the slow movement. An aboio
is a kind of Song without Words, native to several parts of Brazil. The finale marking Rondo agalopado
is, presumably, his own invention to indicate the galope
. Without a score, I can only assume that the performance is as good as those of the two Haydn works: it certainly sounds fully committed. As I recently discovered, there is a considerable amount of musical talent in Brazil of which we are too little aware: see my review of music from the South of that country in my June 2010 Download Roundup – here
I started by saying that the Haydn C-major concerto had replaced the D-major in my affections, but the equally stylish performance here goes a long way to restoring my enjoyment of it. One small caveat – I thought that all concerned might have made a little more of that wonderful recurring tune in the finale which is so reminiscent of ‘Here we go gathering nuts in May’, but that might have been achieved at the expense of the wistfulness which is also inherent in this movement and which is well brought out here.
There seems to be little point in making detailed comparisons with other performances, since no other version of one or both of the Haydn works comes with such an interesting coupling – inevitably, since only odd short pieces of music by Pereira exist in the UK domestic catalogue.
I shall, however, be holding on to my deleted Philips Concert Classics CD as a reminder of Maurice Gendron’s feeling for this music – if I can find it! I was introduced to the D-major in a recording in which he was soloist, coupled with the Grutzmacher rearrangement of Boccherini. In the remake, with both concertos, he acts as conductor in stylish performances for their time, which I could wish to see returned to the catalogue. I recommended René Capuçon’s Virgin Classics recording (5 45560-2) in my June 2009 Download Roundup – here
– but the spurious ‘Concerto No.4’ on that recording is no match for the Pereira on the new CD, unless you are averse to mixing the old and the new. I sometimes am, but definitely not in this case.
The Avie sound is good throughout – the kind of recording, typical for this label, which never draws attention to itself. Pereira’s own notes may be too brief but the worthwhile analyses by Peter Avis of the Haydn are fuller.
Avie advertise in the booklet several other recordings of instrumental and chamber which Meneses has made for them: Peter J Lawson made his Bach Cello Suites
Recording of the Month (AV0052, 2 CDs) – see review
– Michael Cookson praised his Schumann and Schubert, with Gérard Wyss (AV2112) – see review
– and Dominy Clements enjoyed his Beethoven Cello Sonatas
with Menahem Pressler (AV2103) – see review
. That I now intend to investigate some or all of these other issues indicates how highly I rate the new Haydn and Pereira recording. These performances are now my benchmarks for Haydn and the Pereira Concertino
offers a surprisingly apt coupling.