Casals Encores David POPPER(1843-1914)
La Chanson villageoise, Op. 62 No. 2 [2:32] Claude DEBUSSY(1862-1918)
Petite Suite: Menuet, arr. Choisnel 2:57] BenjaminGODARD(1849-1895)
Berceuse from Jocelyn [5:22] Giovanni SGAMBATI(1841-1914)
Serenata napoletana, Op. 24 No. 2 [3:04] Eduard LASSEN(1830-1904)
Mit deinem blauen Augen, arr. Casals [2:26] Frédéric CHOPIN(1810-1849)
Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2, arr. Popper [4:14]
Après un rêve, Op. 7 No. 1, arr. Casals [3:16] David POPPER
Mazurka in G minor, Op. 11 No. 3 [3:24] Richard WAGNER(1813-1883)
To the evening star (from Tannhäuser) [5:02] David POPPER
Vito (Spanish Dances Op. 54, no. 5) [3:59] Edward ELGAR(1857-1934)
Salut d'amour, Op. 12 [3:11] Luigi BOCCHERINI(1743-1805)
Allegro Moderato (Cello Sonata in A major, G4a) [4:26] Manuel de FALLA(1876-1946)
Nana (No. 5 from Siete canciones populares españolas), arr.
Maréchal [2:13] Edward MacDOWELL(1860-1908)
Romanze, Op. 35 [3:41] Enrique GRANADOS(1867-1916)
Andaluza (Danza española, Op. 37 No. 5), arr. Casals [3:14]
Chanson Louis XIII [4:00]; Pavane (In the style of Couperin) [2:26]
Prelude, Op. 28 No. 15 in D flat major ‘Raindrop', arr. Casals
[6:31] Camille SAINT-SAËNS(1835-1921)
Le Cygne (Le Carnaval des Animaux) [3:27]
Allegro Appassionato in B minor, Op. 43 [3:18] Traditional
The Song of the Birds, arr. Casals [2:32]
Alban Gerhardt (cello); Cecile Licad (piano)
rec. 25-27 June, 2010, Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth.
HYPERION CDA67831 [72:41]
The young German cellist Alban Gerhardt grew up revering,
and imitating, Pablo Casals. This disc is a tribute by Gerhardt
to Casal’s artistry, not in the longer works which Casals
recorded toward the end of his long career, but in the encores
that he set down much earlier. Gerhardt was inspired by the
way that Casals would present these miniature pieces “not
as seond-rate, cheap salon music, but with the sincerity and
integrity they deserve”. His partner is the Filipino pianist
The program for this recording consists mostly of nineteenth
century pieces, by a mixture of familiar composers and some
not so familiar, such as David Popper, Benjamin Godard, Giovanni
Sgambati and Eduard Lassen. A movement from one of the Boccherini
sonatas and Casals’ arrangement of the traditional folksong
Song of the birds add variety. These pieces are mostly
melodic in nature and are all very approachable; the Popper
pieces are the most overtly virtuosic. Gerhardt and Licad’s
approach to this repertoire is sensitive and mostly respectful,
with the exception of the Popper pieces, which are played quite
uninhibitedly. Gerhardt takes the opportunity here to indulge
in some expressive slides, but, after the manner of his Catalan
idol, these are not overdone.
Space obviously doesn’t permit commentary about every
piece, but there were a few outstanding ones. The Menuet
from the Petite Suite had sensitive dynamic shaping. I felt
Gerhardt’s upper register sounded a little thin here;
Casals’s 1926 recording had more body, although his upper
register was more nasal. The Sgambati Serenade had a
very well-managed transition to the upper register. Gerhardt’s
beautiful legato playing registered in several pieces, notably
the Chopin Nocturne and Casal’s arrangement of
Song of the birds. The Chopin also showed the ability
of the duo to present music with feeling that never becomes
sentimental. Licad gets more to do in Vito, and Gerhardt
has the opportunity to show off his harmonics and double trills.
The Boccherini was charming and showed Gerhardt’s great
variation of tone. The Swan and Allegro Appassionato
were expertly played. The recording is very well-balanced, living
up to Hyperion’s usual high standard.
For comparison I listened to volume
1 of the Casals Encores and Transcriptions series on Naxos.
This disc contains quite a few of the tracks on the Gerhardt
collection. I was able to hear some of the remainder on a disc
called Ultimate Cello Classics, CD5, issued on Eloquence; this
comprises encores played by Heinrich Schiff and Samuel Sanders.
Some of these pieces are also on the Casals and Gerhardt discs,
and thus offered the opportunity for a three-way comparison.
These players all treat this repertoire with respect, and are
effective in “selling” a piece that only has 3 or
4 minutes to get its points across.
This music is ideal for relaxing evening or late night listening.
For the listener who does not have any of these recordings,
the decisions are slightly complicated. Gerhardt definitely
has the technical chops for these pieces, and plays them with
just the right amount of feeling. However, there is no denying
Casals’ marvellous way with this repertoire. If you only
want one disc, at least to start with, and modern sound engineering
is a must, Gerhardt can confidently be recommended. If you are
curious about the master who so inspired him, one or more of
the Casals series would be a worthwhile and inexpensive supplement.
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