More than just a challenge to orthodoxy.. . Why should music ‘before Mozart’ now be the sole preserve of period-instrument orchestras? For some years now, Ensemble Resonanz has challenged this idea, without ever neglecting the notion of the sheer pleasure to be derived from the concertos and symphonies of the great C. P. E. Bach. Like their guest soloist Jean-Guihen Queyras, all the musicians master both styles of playing (on metal or gut strings) with dazzling virtuosity. This is the first disc on harmonia mundi to celebrate their collaboration with maestro Riccardo Minasi.
Sol Gabetta’s first recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto, with the Danish National Symphony, was much admired when it appeared six years ago. This one, taken from a concert in the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus in 2014, is a far glossier affair orchestrally. Simon Rattle’s tendency to overmould the phrasing is sometimes too obvious, but Gabetta’s playing is intense and searching, less introspective than some performances in the Adagio, perhaps, but epic in scale in the outer movements, and always keenly responsive. Those who possess her earlier disc might not think they need to invest in this one, but would then miss Gabetta’s vivid, pulsating account of the Martinů concerto, which went through a quarter of a century of revisions before the definitive 1955 version she plays here, with Krysztof Urbański conducting. She finds real depth and intensity in it, both in the slow movement and in the introspective episode that interrupts the finale’s headlong rush.
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.
When the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich died in 2007, the world not only lost a great musician, but also a personality who had earned the honorary title "world citizen" with political commitment and commitment to humanitarian goals. He gave humanity a voice with his instrument - so in 1989 at the Berlin Wall. As an initiator of new works, as a pedagogue and conductor, he left clear traces in music history. In 2017, the great musician would have turned 90 years old. At the same time, his death is ten years back.
Anticipating the ultimate judgements of posterity can be a risky business, and yet in the case of Shostakovich concertos I'll risk putting my neck on the line by proclaiming the First Violin Concerto greater than the Second, and the Second Cello Concerto greater than the First.