Notes and Editorial Reviews
It's hard not to love Hyperion's ongoing exploration of the romantic concertante literature. With series devoted to the piano, violin, and viola already in progress, their attention now turns to the cello. As with previous issues, even if not every work is a masterpiece, the journey promises to unearth plenty of enjoyable music, and as with previous releases, the performance standards are high, the program worth your attention. There are no premieres here, but these three works, composed within a few years of each other around the turn of the 20th century, make sensible disc-mates, and having them together means that you won't have to hunt around on various labels or buy yet another Dvorák or Elgar concerto in order to acquire some
interesting new repertoire.
Alban Gerhardt is a splendid soloist, playing with warm tone, excellent intonation, and a welcome absence of gasping and grinding in fortissimo. It's also wonderful to see Carlos Kalmar, a sensitive, intelligent conductor, finding his way onto yet another label (you may recall his distinguished contributions to several Cedille recordings). The two men make beautiful music together, despite the fact that all three works are not of equal interest. D'Albert's Concerto is perhaps the least impressive piece: conservative, attractively written to be sure, but not especially memorable. Like d'Albert's model, Brahms, it has a tendency to make a fetish out of self-denial, even though the music is undeniably correct and admirably succinct. With the Dohnányi Konzertstück, the level of inspiration rises. This is good stuff, not just well-crafted but also more emotionally involving. Lushly rhapsodic passages alternate with moments of dark introspection, and the ending is pure poetry. Probably the absence of virtuoso display has kept the work out of the modern repertoire.
Enescu's Symphonie concertante, composed when he was a mere teenager, reveals from the very first chord a fresh new musical voice. Like so much of his work, the music gushes forth with a superabundance of ideas, and although this makes its form seem a touch amorphous on superficial acquaintance, its very thematic richness ultimately carries the day. In any case, this is by no means the longest work on the disc--at about 22 minutes it's actually a bit more concise than the by-no-means prolix Dohnányi. It is also here that Gerhardt's playing really rises to the occasion, revealing a commanding ability to effectively phrase Enescu's long, sinewy paragraphs. Ideally balanced sonics and typically confident support from the BBC orchestra round out a splendid initial release. We can only wait eagerly for more.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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