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Paul Tortelier - The Great EMI Recordings


Release Date: 03/09/2010 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 88627  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachAntonio VivaldiFranz Joseph HaydnLuigi Boccherini,   ... 
Performer:  Paul TortelierMaud TortelierJacques Manzone
Conductor:  Sir Philip LedgerJörg Faerber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Mozart PlayersWürttemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn
Number of Discs: 20 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Tortelier’s many admirers will find here much that has slipped through the net; merits the highest admiration.

After their Menuhin retrospective box I was waiting keenly for suitable honour to be done to Tortelier’s EMI recordings. And here it is, a big twenty CD collection. Tortelier revisited his discography over the years and in the main we have later traversals. To take a solitary example we have the Menuhin Brahms Double rather than the earlier (superior) Ferras.
 
There is a cornucopia of riches in this box and a few highlights will be in order. The first two discs are given over to his 1992 Bach suites cycle. Tortelier was endlessly judged against his colleague Fournier in this repertoire
Read more but it’s just as instructive to listen to the various recordings Tortelier left behind. My own preference, perhaps because the visual element is so compelling but also I think because the playing is even more elevated, is for the recordings made at Abbaye St. Michel de Cuxa, during the Casals-Prades festival in 1990.
 
Vivaldi occupies the third disc, arrangements by Malipiero, of concertos in which – though he hardly emulates his woody tone - Tortelier reminds us of the august French Vivaldian lineage on disc of Maurice Maréchal; romantic, expressive, quite muscular. Ledger’s harpsichord playing and direction are first class. Jörg Faerber is on hand for the Haydn concertos and as ever his conducting is assured and likeable, his forces crisp and discreet and avoiding over-accenting. Tortelier plays with elasticity and eloquence, and uses his own cadenzas, a bit of an acquired taste.
 
His son Yan Pascal offers first class conductorial support in the Schumann where Tortelier senior’s rubato is artfully shaped, and his tonal suavity not overdone. The Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations is equally assured. I saw Tortelier and Menuhin play the Brahms Double at around the time of these November 1984 sessions. On disc the violinist’s frailties are all too exposed, the spot-lit recording hardly helping in this respect. He had Previn as support in the Dvorák. I prefer the previous outing with Sargent but this one has engaging extroversion – it’s even rather bluff in places.
 
The seventh disc houses a first class Lalo D minor, quite equal to Navarra’s, and an aristocratically conceived Saint-Saëns A minor. Both have the superior conducting of Louis Frémaux and his Birmingham forces. The once-ubiquitous Boëllmann Symphonic Variations are given a fine dusting off. When played with such poise and panache you wonder at the timidity of other cellists in not offering it. Disc 8 is self-recommending, and all British. His Elgar was always amongst the best. This is the 1972 Boult, but others prefer the earlier Sargent. I’ll take this happily. The Walton is the Bournemouth/Berglund with the lyric and sardonic elements held in perfect balance. The Delius Double is saddled with an again off-form Menuhin, and is not ideally balanced, but is valuable to have nevertheless.
 
Don Quixote was in a sense what Tortelier became, physically. One could hardly have a more visually appropriate analogue to Strauss’s music. This is the 1973 Kempe recording with Rostal playing viola – the second of Tortelier’s recordings with the conductor in other works; the Beecham, is equally famed. Coupled with it is the Shostakovich E flat Concerto – wholly committed, sinewy and powerful. Berglund is the excellent conductor. The central discs are given over to the Beethoven cello sonatas. I don’t think these performances with the first class Eric Heidsieck will be as familiar as many others in this box, which makes their inclusion all the more worthy and valuable. There is real interplay here, a quick and tensile accommodation of the music’s grand designs. The ensemble is truly excellent and as Heidsieck shows elsewhere in this set he is a hugely underestimated pianist, a sonata partner of compelling imagination, subtlety and flair.
 
When it comes to piano trios, we have a raft. The Mendelssohn D minor and Schumann in the same key saw Tortelier join forces with Kyung-Wha Chung and André Previn. These are attractive though not really top-drawer performances and I prefer the Ravel Trio with Yan Pascal and Maria de la Pau, which is a more complete and rounded conception with a better sense of integration. The Brahms sonatas are with de la Pau, as are the Mendelssohn sonatas; admirably sturdy and ship-shape performances that refuse to linger and make a meal of things. Some may find them therefore a little lacking in a sense of projection. The two Fauré sonatas are also here, the second in disc 15 and the first in the following volume. Both are with Heidsieck, and have something of the magic that pervaded Tortelier’s early 1960s recordings of them with Jean Hubeau. Certainly the pairing is consistently superior to the occasionally indeterminate association of Tortelier with Aldo Ciccolini; their Chopin and Rachmaninov pairing works well only in parts. I don’t sense full rapport.
 
Disc seventeen is exciting. The Kodály solo sonata is at a total remove from János Starker’s kind of vision – it’s an altogether more grand seigniorial approach, less resinous and biting, more legato orientated. Tortelier’s own baroque-leaning Suite is a charmer. Tcherepnin’s Trio (Yan Pascal, the composer himself) is a refined opus with insinuating warmth and a folkloric finale in big boots. His Duo for violin and cello sports some real introspection in its central Moderato, whilst the solo suite is a multi-faceted soliloquy with folk drive, drones and elemental pizzicato in its exciting lexicon. Disc 18 is a mixed bag; a good Grieg sonata with Robert Weisz from 1959 is followed by some standard fare to excite or pacify the spirits (Rimsky’s Bee, Rachmaninov’s Vocalise etc). Similarly the penultimate disc offers a sheaf of Saint-Saëns arrangements and a mostly-Gallic encore selection. They’re all played with enormous conviction; it’s especially good to hear his old teacher Gérard Hekking’s Villageoise. These short pieces extend into the final disc, marked ‘Historical’, which takes us back to the very first piece here, from 1946, with Tasso Janopoulo and Gerald Moore from 1948 – Bach, more Tortelier and the Debussy sonata with Moore. The most substantial is the excellently pointed Honegger Concerto with Tzipine.
 
So ends a finely conceived and unproblematically transferred corpus of Tortelier’s recordings. To those antipathetic to the high wire Russian tradition his playing served as a noble alternative, though this is not a view doubtless he would have shared. In any case his many admirers will find here much that has slipped through the net over the years; this box merits the highest admiration.
 
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite for Cello solo no 1 in G major, BWV 1007 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
2.
Suite for Cello solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
3.
Suite for Cello solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1009 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
4.
Suite for Cello solo no 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
5.
Suite for Cello solo no 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
6.
Suite for Cello solo no 6 in D major, BWV 1012 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
7.
Concerto for Cello in C major, RV 400 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Mozart Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
8.
Concerto for Cello in B minor, RV 424 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Mozart Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
9.
Concerto for Cello in C minor, RV 401 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Mozart Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
10.
Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor, RV 531 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello), Maud Tortelier (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Mozart Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
11.
Concerto for Violin and 2 Cellos in C major, RV 561 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello), Jacques Manzone (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Mozart Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
12.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 3 no 9/RV 230 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1711; Venice, Italy 
13.
Trio Sonata in G minor by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
14.
Concerto for Cello no 1 in C major, H 7b no 1 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Conductor:  Jörg Faerber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn
Period: Classical 
Written: circa 1761-1765; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
15.
Concerto for Cello in B flat major, G 482 by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1785 
16.
Concerto for Cello in A minor, Op. 129 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
17.
Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 47 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Liverpool, England 
18.
Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102 "Double" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Austria 
19.
Introduction and Variations from Rossini's Mosč "Dal tuo stellato soglio" by Niccolň Paganini
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1819 
20.
Concerto for Cello in B minor, Op. 104/B 191 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; USA 
21.
Rondo for Cello and Orchestra in G minor, Op. 94 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Bohemia 
22.
Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo theme, Op. 33 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Russia 
23.
Pezzo capriccioso for Cello and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 62 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
24.
Concerto for Cello in D minor by Edouard Lalo
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
25.
Concerto for Cello no 1 in A minor, Op. 33 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
26.
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
27.
Elégie for Cello and Piano, Op. 24 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
28.
Variations symphoniques for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 23 by Léon Boëllmann
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1893; France 
29.
Concerto for Cello in E minor, Op. 85 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; England 
30.
Concerto for Cello by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1974; England 
31.
Concerto for Violin and Cello by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1916; England 
32.
Don Quixote, Op. 35 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896-1897; Germany 
33.
Concerto for Cello no 1 in E flat major, Op. 107 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1959; USSR 
34.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in F major, Op. 5 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
35.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 5 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
36.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 3 in A major, Op. 69 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
37.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 4 in C major, Op. 102 no 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
38.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 5 in D major, Op. 102 no 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1815; Vienna, Austria 
39.
Variations (12) for Cello and Piano in G major on a theme by Handel, WoO 45 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
40.
Variations (7) for Cello and Piano on Mozart's "Bei Männern", WoO 46 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1801; Vienna, Austria 
41.
Variations (12) for Cello and Piano in F major on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen", Op. 66 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1796; Vienna, Austria 
42.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in D minor, Op. 49 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Germany 
43.
Trio for Piano and Strings no 1 in D minor, Op. 63 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Paul Tortelier (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 

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