Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) stands apart from the legions of Brahms imitators and conservative late Romantics for one thing: melody. It seeps from every theme and cadence. Everything I've heard from his pen is overflowing with inventive tunefulness. It is no wonder he enjoyed a close friendship with another great melodist of his day, Edvard Grieg. Röntgen's enormous output includes 14 cello sonatas, many of which were dedicated to and performed by Pablo Casals.
Everybody will know by now that Elizabeth Wallfisch has a special interest, affection and regard for the 17th- and 18th-century Italian violin schools. She has already recorded much music by the likes of Tartini, Corelli, Locatelli and others with her group, The Locatelli Trio, and also with The Raglan Baroque Players under Nicholas Kraemer. Here is a varied and fascinating collection of pieces by some of the lesser-known composers from a generation or two earlier than those composers.
Antonio Vivaldi had his own cello specialist for part of his tenure at the Ospedale della Pietà, and there were several other virtuoso cellists in his orbit. His six sonatas for cello and continuo, of an unknown date of composition, are surprisingly simple technically and may have been intended as teaching pieces at the Ospedale. Most Baroque cellists and viol players, as well as quite a few performers on the modern cello, have recorded them, but this set by Dutch-Swiss cellist Roel Dieltiens stands out as dramatic and adventurous.
This 2-CD set puts together Vivaldi's all nine surviving cello sonatas. Vivaldi may have composed more sonatas for cello for all we know, but this is all we have left. And it is a wonderful legacy, although less known than his violin concertos, for example. Compared with the violin concertos, many of which sound rather run-off-the-mill, these sonatas sound more thoughtful and meditative.