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Casals Encores / Alban Gerhardt, Cecile Licad

Gerhardt / Licad
Release Date: 06/14/2011 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67831   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  David PopperClaude DebussyBenjamin GodardGiovanni Sgambati,   ... 
Performer:  Alban GerhardtCecile Licad
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



September 2011

***** Gerhardt has a honeyed, liquid tone all his own. He has created a well-contrasted programme that clearly took a long time to research and hone. This is cello playing of exquisite sophistication and bold imagination. Casals, I feel sure, would have approved.

– BBC Music Magazine [August 2011]

The young German cellist Alban Gerhardt grew up revering, and imitating, Pablo Casals. This disc is a tribute by Gerhardt to Casal’s artistry, not in the longer works which Casals recorded toward the end of his long career, but in the encores that he set down much earlier. Gerhardt was inspired by the way that Casals
Read more would present these miniature pieces “not as seond-rate, cheap salon music, but with the sincerity and integrity they deserve”. His partner is the Filipino pianist Cecile Licad.
 
The program for this recording consists mostly of nineteenth century pieces, by a mixture of familiar composers and some not so familiar, such as David Popper, Benjamin Godard, Giovanni Sgambati and Eduard Lassen. A movement from one of the Boccherini sonatas and Casals’ arrangement of the traditional folksong Song of the birds add variety. These pieces are mostly melodic in nature and are all very approachable; the Popper pieces are the most overtly virtuosic. Gerhardt and Licad’s approach to this repertoire is sensitive and mostly respectful, with the exception of the Popper pieces, which are played quite uninhibitedly. Gerhardt takes the opportunity here to indulge in some expressive slides, but, after the manner of his Catalan idol, these are not overdone.
 
Space obviously doesn’t permit commentary about every piece, but there were a few outstanding ones. The Menuet from the Petite Suite had sensitive dynamic shaping. I felt Gerhardt’s upper register sounded a little thin here; Casals’s 1926 recording had more body, although his upper register was more nasal. The Sgambati Serenade had a very well-managed transition to the upper register. Gerhardt’s beautiful legato playing registered in several pieces, notably the Chopin Nocturne and Casal’s arrangement of Song of the birds. The Chopin also showed the ability of the duo to present music with feeling that never becomes sentimental. Licad gets more to do in Vito, and Gerhardt has the opportunity to show off his harmonics and double trills. The Boccherini was charming and showed Gerhardt’s great variation of tone. The Swan and Allegro Appassionato were expertly played. The recording is very well-balanced, living up to Hyperion’s usual high standard.
 
For comparison I listened to volume 1 of the Casals Encores and Transcriptions series on Naxos. This disc contains quite a few of the tracks on the Gerhardt collection. I was able to hear some of the remainder on a disc called Ultimate Cello Classics, CD5, issued on Eloquence; this comprises encores played by Heinrich Schiff and Samuel Sanders. Some of these pieces are also on the Casals and Gerhardt discs, and thus offered the opportunity for a three-way comparison. These players all treat this repertoire with respect, and are effective in “selling” a piece that only has 3 or 4 minutes to get its points across.
 
This music is ideal for relaxing evening or late night listening. For the listener who does not have any of these recordings, the decisions are slightly complicated. Gerhardt definitely has the technical chops for these pieces, and plays them with just the right amount of feeling. However, there is no denying Casals’ marvellous way with this repertoire. If you only want one disc, at least to start with, and modern sound engineering is a must, Gerhardt can confidently be recommended. If you are curious about the master who so inspired him, one or more of the Casals series would be a worthwhile and inexpensive supplement.  

-- Guy Aron, MusicWeb International 
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Works on This Recording

1.
Chanson villageoise, Op. 62 no 2 by David Popper
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: USA 
2.
Petite suite for Piano 4 hands: no 3, Menuet by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1886-1889; France 
3.
Jocelyn, Op. 100: Ah! ne t'éveille pas encor "Berceuse" by Benjamin Godard
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; France 
4.
Serenata napoletana, Op. 24 no 2 by Giovanni Sgambati
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
5.
Thine eyes so blue and tender by Edward Lassen
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
6.
Nocturnes (3) for Piano, B 54/Op. 9: no 2 in E flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
7.
Après un rêve, Op. 7 no 1 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
8.
Pieces (3) for Cello and Piano, Op. 11: no 3, Mazurka by David Popper
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
9.
Tannhäuser: O, du mein holder Abendstern by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
10.
Pieces for Cello and Piano, Op. 54: no 5, Spanish Dance "Vito" by David Popper
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
11.
Salut d'amour, Op. 12 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1889; England 
12.
Sonata for Cello and Basso Continuo in A major, G 4: 1st movement, Allegro moderato by Luigi Boccherini
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
13.
Canciones populares españolas (7): no 5, Nana by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
14.
Romance for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 35 by Edward MacDowell
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; USA 
15.
Danzas (12) españolas for Piano, Op. 37: no 5, Andaluza by Enrique Granados
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892-1900; Spain 
16.
Chanson Louis XIII and Pavane in the style of Dittersdorf by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
17.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 28: no 15 in D flat major "Raindrop" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838-1839; Paris, France 
18.
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
19.
Allegro appassionato for Cello and Orchestra/Piano in B minor, Op. 43 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; France 
20.
El cant del ocells by Pablo Casals
Performer:  Alban Gerhardt (Cello), Cecile Licad (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972 

Featured Sound Samples

Nocturnes, op 9 (Chopin, arr Popper): No 2 in E flat
Pieces for Cello and Piano, op 54 (Popper): No 5: Spanish Dance "Vito"

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