If you're going to record the fiendishly difficult and vibrant violin and cello concertos of Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, magnificently clean, virtuosic, and sensitive performances are absolutely essential for soloists and orchestra alike. Fortunately, that is precisely what is achieved on this recording featuring violinist Arabella Steinbacher, cellist Daniel Muller-Schott, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Though written barely 20 years apart, Dvorák's Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations draw their inspiration from two entirely different epochs. Dvorák's lush, Romantic concerto has hints of Czech motherland and even adaptations of his own previous works. The accompaniment is densely scored with tutti sections that could easily be right out of one of his symphonies.
Alberto Ginastera was one of the most admired and respected musical voices of the twentieth century, who successfully fused the strong traditional influences of his national heritage with experimental, contemporary, and classical techniques. The two Cello Concertos are among his most innovative, brilliant and technically formidable compositions.
In his lifetime, Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was most celebrated as a pianist and was often considered Liszt's only real rival. However, he was also an extremely productive composer, his output including eight concertos, two of which are for 'cello.
The young cellist Andreas Brantelid, often accompanied and perhaps guided by the much older Bengt Forsberg, has gained notice for sheer virtuoso chops. But in this recital covering all of Gabriel Fauré's music for cello and piano, it's his way with a sheer melody that impresses the most: the two Berceuses (cradle song), the flawless unfolding of the two sonata slow movements from simple opening material (sample that of the elegiac Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117), the remarkable, 54-second Morceau de Lecture (originally for two cellos, and the only arranged work here). Brantelid certainly delivers a smooth performance of the popular Papillon, Op. 77, and all the music here – some of it well known, but most of it not so much – is a pleasure. Fauré was one of the few composers who had a real knack for writing for the cello and did so without complaining about it. The best is saved for last: the Andante for cello and harmonium is the original version of the opening Romance, Op. 69, and it's really an entirely different work, spooky and inward, with the harmonium contributing a unique wash of sound. The harmonium was an extremely common instrument in the second half of the 19th century, and it's good to hear a work played on the instrument for which it was intended. BIS contributes fine Swedish radio sound to this recommended cello recital.
Over the course of his career, Steven Isserlis has performed the two cello concertos of Franz Joseph Haydn with several orchestras, and recorded them previously with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe on RCA. This 2017 Hyperion release features Isserlis performing Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major, H. 7b:1 and the Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major, H. 7b:2 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in a lively, all-Classical program that also includes Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Cello Concerto No. 3 in A major, H439, and two short filler pieces, Isserlis' arrangement of Geme la tortorella from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's La finta giardiniera, and the Adagio from Luigi Boccherini's Cello Concerto in G major, G480.