Total Time: 59:23
The cello is the most versatile of all orchestral instruments, with its romantic voice and its four-octave range. It can play, in Shakespeare's phrase, both high and low; it can play the yearning lover or sound the voice of martial glory; it can strum a plink-plonk accompaniment or intertwine in glorious counterpoint. All these roles are on display in this collection of great music arranged for many cellos but played on just one.
Selections from both Baroque and Romantic music reveal the richness of the cello's multiple voice. Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, an example of his brilliant extrovert style, was composed for the celebration of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1749. The Bach fugue recorded here, on the other hand, is the supreme example of his contrapuntal mastery, the great Ricerare a 6, from the Musical Offering, composed for the King of Prussia in 1747 and based on a theme by the King himself.
Baroque instrumental music is also represented by Pachelbel's famous Kanon, by two movements from one of Telemann's concertos, originally for four violins, and by Corelli's Concerto Grosso op.6 no.3, alternating slow and fast movements. When it came to contrapuntal complexity, few could rival Italian composers of the eighteenth century whose sacred works for many voices were written for St. Peter's and other great Italian churches. Antonio Caldara is said to have composed over three thousand works, including countless operas and oratorios. His best-known legacy is the sixteen-part Crucifixus in which the ear can follow the sixteen successive entries at the start, before a more complex interweaving takes over the texture.
The cello reveals here a further affinity with choral music in Mozart's beautiful Ave verum, composed in the last months of his brief life.
From the chamber music repertory comes the Andante cantabile from Tchaikovsky's String Quartet no. 1, and from opera the Prayer from Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. In this scene from the second act the two children, lost in the forest, sing a Prayer as the Sandman sprinkles sand on their eyes and they lie down to sleep.
Finally a piano piece arranged for the ever-versatile cello: Gabriel-Marie composed his tuneful Cinquantaine in 1887, but although the title refers to a Golden Wedding Anniversary, history does not relate whose anniversary it was.
Photographs by Robert Clemens.
©2003 Colonial Lane Music