Among his many famous and beloved concertos, Vivaldi wrote no fewer than twenty-seven for the cello an instrument that at the time was generally consigned to playing basso continuo. With the genuine virtuosi he had available to him at the Ospedale della Pietà, the Prete Rosso played a key role in the emancipation of the cello. On this new CD of Vivaldi concertos, acclaimed cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras is supported by the musicians of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in a fascinating program that is further enhanced by a selection of highly expressive Sinfonias by Antonio Caldara.
What a versatile artist Steven Isserlis is. Having made his name as a sympathetic interpreter of a wide variety of romantic and modern music, here he shows he can be just as persuasive in eighteenth-century repertoire. His stylistic awareness is evident in beautiful, elegant phrasing, selective use of vibrato and varied articulation, giving an expressive range that never conflicts with the music’s natural language. In the cello concertos he is helped by an extremely sensitive accompaniment, stressing the chamber musical aspects of Haydn’s pre-London orchestral writing. The soft, intimate sonority at 3'06'' in the first movement of the D major is a typical example. The Adagios are taken at a flowing speed, but Isserlis’s relaxed approach means they never sound hurried. The Allegro molto finale of the C major Concerto, on the other hand, sounds poised rather than the helter-skelter we often hear. In his understanding of the music, Isserlis is a long way ahead of Han-na Chang, whose version places the emphasis on fine, traditional-style cello playing. Mork’s vivacious, imaginative performances characterize the music very strongly, but my preference would be for Isserlis’s and Norrington’s lighter touch and greater refinement.
The Cello Concerto No.1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1, by Joseph Haydn was composed around 1761–1765 for longtime friend Joseph Weigl, then the principal cellist of Prince Nicolaus's Esterhazy Orchestra. The work was presumed lost until 1961, when musicologist Oldrich Pulkert discovered a copy of the score at the Prague National Museum. Though some doubts have been raised about the authenticity of the work, most experts believe that Haydn did compose this concerto.
Giovanni Benedetto Platti left his home country Italy and settled in the wealthy environment of the Würzburg court, where he became an esteemed soloist, singer and composer. Platti’s music, firmly rooted in the Italian Baroque style of Corelli and Vivaldi, shows an exceptional depth of feeling and a “personal touch”, quite unlike some of the thirteen‐to‐the‐dozen works of some of his contemporaries.
On Haydn & Mysliveček Cello Concertos, American cellist Wendy Warner, a protégé of Mstislav Rostropovich, and Camerata Chicago, conducted by its British-born founder, Drostan Hall, present Franz Josef Haydn’s essential C Major and D Major Cello Concertos, harmoniously paired with a genuine rarity: the C Major Cello Concerto of Czech composer Josef Mysliveček (1737–1781), a Haydn contemporary.
Neapolitan composer Leonardo Leo (1694-1744) was one of the forerunners of the Classical style, a composer primarily of opera. His experiments with a lighter, freer concept of melody in his comic operas spilled over into instrumental works like these cello composers of 1737 and 1738, which have a flavor all their own. They owe little to the concertos of Vivaldi, which must have been well known even as far south as Naples. They are in four (or five) movements rather than the conventional three, and their opening Andante movements, especially, show signs of the breaking-up of terraced Baroque structure that would lead eventually to the shifting motion dynamics of Classicism. Most striking is the role of the cello, which was not a common solo instrument at the time.
This recording is excellent on so many levels. Great music, first; great performances, second, and what sound! Rich, full, superb playing. I enjoyed this and the second release by Dieltiens on Harmonia Mundi. Dieltiens is a real star on the baroque cello; he's got excellent interpretive technique, and is joined by equally interesting colleagues.