Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Concerto No. 8,
“In Form einer Gesangszene.”
Cello Concerto in A,
Raphael Wallfisch (vc); Northern CO
NIMBUS NI 5868 (75:32)
Variations on “Là ci darem la mano”
This recital of Classical and early Romantic works for cello and orchestra brings together three rarely heard pieces by well-known composers (if only by name), plus one major work in a rare transcription. Louis Spohr’s “Gesangszene” Concerto (given here with its Italian title, “In modo di scena cantante”) is the only one of his 15 violin concertos that has resided even on the fringes of the standard repertoire, and that probably because of its “gimmick.” Wallfisch plays it in a transcription by the 19th-century cellist Friedrich Grützmacher. The cello version is, of course, less brilliant than the original, and Wallfisch takes slower tempos than most violinists, particularly in the final
that makes up almost half the work’s duration. Whether this is in response to the different (and likely greater) technical challenges of playing this piece on the cello, or merely an interpretive decision, I am not prepared to say, but it does seem to drag.
Josef (or Joseph) Reicha (1752–95) was a Bohemian cellist, composer, and teacher who spent considerable time in Germany and Austria; he was the uncle of the better-known composer and theorist Anton Reicha. His A-Major Concerto, written around 1777, is a full-length work, with cadenzas in the first two movements; it fully exploits the cello’s huge registral compass. The concerto is well crafted without being particularly distinctive or memorable, but may be a welcome addition to the cellist’s repertoire. Franz Danzi (1763–1826), best-known today as a pioneer of the wind quintet, was considered an important opera composer in his own time. He was also a cellist, first at Mannheim, where his father also played in the court orchestra, then in Munich. His variations on the famous theme from Mozart’s
are modest in scope and show none of the harmonic inventiveness of the wind quintets or the lesser-known but also excellent quintets for piano and winds, but serve as an effective vehicle.
Carl Maria von Weber was a friend of Danzi’s, despite being more than 20 years his junior; curiously, they died only a few months apart. Weber’s
is an ambitious
more than 20 minutes long, written in four continuous movements; its Andante second movement and Allegro finale are based on themes of Danzi.
Wallfisch’s playing is surely well known to lovers of the cello. He plays this recital with his usual technical mastery, but with a smaller sound than I expected; this may well be the fault of the recording, which is somewhat distant and quite reverberant. The musical content of the recital is slight, but cello collectors will want to have this CD for the rare repertoire.
FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
Works on This Recording
Cello Concerto in A major, Op. 4/1 by Josef Reicha
Raphael Wallfisch (Cello)
Venue: St. Philip's, Salford, UK
Length: 11 Minutes 21 Secs.
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