Notes and Editorial Reviews
Music by Offenbach for two cellos may seem a highly unlikely combination to those who think of him purely as a prolific operetta composer. However, he had a substantial early career as a cello virtuoso, at which time he appears to have turned out music for the instrument at the same rate of knots as he was later to compose for the stage. The music on these two sides is only a very small part of his output for this combination alone.
Now, two cellos are not usually my idea of the ideal musical sound, and since having first approached this music in an earlier German recording never issued in Britain (Da Camera Magna SM92902) I listened to this new version with some apprehension. But I was amazed and delighted at what I heard.
The sound is surprisingly full and rounded and, in the material Offenbach provides, remarkably varied in tonal quality. Both suites are written in a brilliant virtuoso style, but with that overlaying lightness and good humour that we expect in the composer. Each, to be sure, has its individual nature. The first in E major is a delightfully bubbling work that culminates in a splendid polonaise, while the second in G minor is more contemplative in style with an adagio religioso that nonetheless stops short of becoming entirely sombre.
The performances reveal all the pleasure that I know these suites offer to players, and provide a meltingly romantic interpretation that brings out the flavour of the music rather better than the more austere earlier recording that I mentioned. There is an appropriately warm, intimate acoustic to match. If you are attracted by the name of Offenbach, then don't let the unfamiliar instrumental combination put you off from what will surely prove a most engaging musical experience.
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