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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Concerto for cello and orchestra in D major, Hob. VIIb:2, Op. 101 [27:05]
Henri-Gustave CASADESUS (1879-1947)
Concerto for cello and strings in C minor, W.C77 [14:07]
[Previously attributed to Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)]
Jean-Baptiste-Aimé-Joseph JANSON (1742-1803)
Cello Concerto D major [18:32]
Valentin Radutiu (cello)
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn/Ruben Gazarian
rec. 2016, Kulturforum Saline, Offenau, nr. Helibronn

I relished reviewing Munich-born cellist Valentin Radutiu’s previous album with Münchener Kammerorchester. Now he has teamed up with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn conducted by Ruben Gazarian. He presents cello concertos by the master composer Haydn and by rather unfamiliar Casadesus and Janson.
Haydn’s 1783 Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major is thought to be for cellist Antonín Kraft, a member of the Esterházy court orchestra. As with the C major concerto, there was doubt over its authenticity as a Haydn piece, with suggestions that it was Kraft’s own work. The concerto is now deemed authentic after Haydn’s autographed score was unearthed in 1951 by Leopold Nowak, the Bruckner scholar. It has been said that it was written for Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s wedding to Princess Maria Josepha of Liechtenstein. The opening movement, Allegro moderato, has an expressive aching quality which Radutiu produces in his high registers. The reflective and tender quality given to the substantial Adagio movement is also very fine.

Johann Christian Bach, known as the English or London Bach, was thought to be the composer of the Concerto for cello and strings in C minor; it was included in Warburton’s thematic catalogue. Certainly written in the style of J. C. Bach, the concerto has now been attributed to Henri-Gustave Casadesus, a Parisian composer and viola player. Tthe central movement Adagio is especially enjoyable. Radutiu creates a reflective and calming atmosphere with a pronounced undertow of seriousness.

Jean-Baptiste Janson was a French virtuoso cellist and a composer. I have heard a Cello Concerto in D major on a recording played by renowned cellist Janos Starker with the Santa Fe Festival Orchestra on Delos, but I am unsure if this D major score is one of the twelve cello concertos Jansons published in 1780-1799, or maybe one that remained in manuscript. Radutiu excels in the lengthy opening movement Allegro moderato. He gives an unerring sense of optimism to Janson’s bright and vibrant writing.

Valentin Radutiu, a decisive and focused player, faces the technical and artistic challenges with splendid virtuosity, and with the assured approach I have come to expect. He produces a glorious tone on 1686 instrument by Francesco Ruggieri from Cremona. The orchestra uses modern instruments. Conducted by its artistic director Ruben Gazarian, it performs splendidly without a hint of routine and almost a surfeit of vitality. The recording is first-class, clear, with plenty of detail from the chamber orchestra, and well balanced with Radutiu’s cello emitting an attractive mellow timbre. The booklet essay by Jens Markowsky provides helpful information.

With soloist Valentin Radutiu in such splendid form, admirers of baroque cello concertos will surely enjoy this excellently played and recorded album.

Michael Cookson

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