This recording features World Premiere recordings of works by Boccherini and his contemporaries Facco, Porretti and Vidal. The Boccherini 'Sonata in c minor' was only discovered in March of 2004. Facco's 'Balletti for Two Cellos' are the first known works for the instrument to have been composed in Spain.
This is a fine recording of two vastly under-appreciated works by young cello virtuoso Han-Na Chang. She has the extraordinary technique to play the excruciatingly difficult cadenza in the central movement of the Sinfonia Concertante and the sustained tone to play the long, lyrical melodies in the opening movement of the cello sonata. Antonio Pappano is a faithful accompanist whether he's directing the London Symphony Orchestra in the Sinfonia Concertante or playing the piano in the cello sonata.
Making her debut on Decca, Alisa Weilerstein presents three major works of the cello repertoire with Daniel Barenboim leading the Staatskapelle Berlin. The star vehicle, naturally, is Edward Elgar's Concerto in E minor, which Weilerstein plays with commanding presence, rich tone, and emotional depth. Most listeners will be drawn primarily to this performance because of the piece's familiarity, and Weilerstein's charisma and passionate playing make it the album's main attraction. Yet listeners should give Weilerstein and Barenboim credit for following the Elgar with an important if not instantly recognizable or approachable modernist work, Elliott Carter's powerful Cello Concerto. Weilerstein is quite bold to play this intensely dramatic and angular composition, and while it's unlikely to appeal to the majority of fans who adore the Elgar, it deserves its place on the program for its seriousness and extraordinary displays of solo and orchestral writing. To close, Weilerstein plays Max Bruch's Kol Nidrei, a Romantic work that returns the program to a mellow and melancholy mood and brings the CD to a satisfying close. Decca's reproduction is excellent, putting Weilerstein front and center with full resonance, but not leaving the vibrant accompaniment of the orchestra too far behind her.
The name of Bernd Alois Zimmermann is probably not a very familiar one to the experimental classical music listener. As this top-notch disc shows, Zimmermann's music was (and still is) strikingly original. It begins with his Cello Concerto in the form of a pas de trois, from the mid 1960s, a five-movement work that exploits to the fullest the solo cello as well as the unusual accompanying orchestra, which includes alto saxophone, contrabass tuba, electric guitar, prepared piano, glass harp, and even cimbalom.
Cellist Jacqueline du Pré needs little introduction to most listeners. Whether as a result of being perhaps the most prominent female cellist in the last century, her meteoric rise to fame at a young age, the equally rapid decline of her career at the hands of multiple sclerosis, or simply the incredible passion with which she performed, du Pré possessed a singular capacity to make an impression on her audiences. She was single-handedly responsible for reviving the long-dormant Elgar concerto that was to become one of her trademark pieces.