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Forgotten Romance - Grieg, Rubinstein / Isserlis, Hough


Release Date: 04/07/2008 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 68290   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz LisztEdvard GriegAnton Rubinstein
Performer:  Stephen HoughSteven Isserlis
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

An inspired duo creates one of the most enjoyable cello discs in years.

With Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough an inspired duo, natural recording artists both, this is one of the most enjoyable new cello discs I have heard in years. I should be sorry if the sentimental title, “Forgotten Romance”, taken from the shortest and least ambitious piece in the collection, deterred any serious listener from investigating it. The logic of the grouping is that the five cello pieces of Liszt, all of them brief and all of them adapted from earlier works, are used to frame the high romantic cello sonatas, by Grieg and Rubinstein, that are in danger of neglect. As Isserlis suggests in his engagingly argued note, “The unabashed
Read more emotionalism, the thrilling climaxes and memorable melodies of all such works are all too easily sneered at nowadays, and concert programmes are thus deprived of a host of 19th-century treasures.”

His advocacy is well founded, for in these exhilarating performances he and Hough challenge each other in spontaneously imaginative interplay to bring out all the qualities he mentions. The point is that with performances like these, as sharply disciplined as they are passionate, all the emotion is very well founded, with sentimentality firmly kept at bay. Romance oubliee, adapted from an early song, was originally written for viola, with an added arpeggio passage at the end reflecting Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, which Liszt had arranged for viola and piano. As Paul Coletti and Leslie Howard demonstrate on their Hyperion recording (11/93), Romance oubliee is rather better suited to that instrument, but makes a pleasant ‘song without words’ here to introduce the magnificent Grieg Sonata. Written when Grieg was considering composing a second piano concerto, its material and manner very much reflect the A minor Concerto, with Grieg at his most richly distinctive. Compared with, say, Truls Mork and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Isserlis and Hough are lighter and more imaginative, never running the risk of sounding sentimental, choosing speeds that flow easily and naturally. Paradoxically that makes the result more moving than any underlining of expression.

One could say the same about all these performances. The two Elegies – with Isserlis most persuasive in the improvisation-like passages – lead to the Rubinstein First Sonata. It has the lyrical directness and honest four-square construction which make the Mendelssohn cello sonatas so attractive. After a strongly characterized first movement Isserlis and Hough adopt a genuine flowing Allegretto for the siciliano rhythms of the central movement, made charmingly fresh, and the exuberant finale finds Hough at his most brilliant in the shimmering piano writing. The disc is rounded off by two Liszt pieces slightly more substantial than the others – Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth (“The Cell in Nonnenwerth”) – a late adaptation of an early song, spare in texture, and Liszt’s tribute to Wagner after his death, La lugubre gondola, one of many different adaptations. It would be a pity if such inspired playing failed to be appreciated, when, as Hough says, all this music so richly deserves to be better known.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [4/1996]
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Works on This Recording

1. Romance oubliée for Violin/Viola/Cello and Piano, S 132 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano), Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880 
2. Concerto for Cello in A minor, Op. 36 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano), Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882-1883 
3. Elegy no 1 for Cello and Piano, S 130/R 471b by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano), Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Weimar, Germany 
4. Elegy no 2 for Violin/Cello and Piano, S 131 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano), Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878 
5. Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in D major, Op. 18 by Anton Rubinstein
Performer:  Steven Isserlis (Cello), Stephen Hough (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1852; Russia 
6. Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth for Violin/Cello and Piano, S 382 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Steven Isserlis (Cello), Stephen Hough (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1883 
7. La lugubre gondola, S 134 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Stephen Hough (Piano), Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Notes: Composition written: Venice, Italy (1882 - 1885). 

Featured Sound Samples

Romance oubliée for Cello and Piano (Liszt)
Cello Sonata (Grieg): I. Allegro agitato

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