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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67906
Recording details: June 2012
Haus des Rundfunks, Berlin, Germany
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon & Dave Rowell
Release date: March 2014
Total duration: 14 minutes 21 seconds

'The earliest and most fascinating composition here, a cello concerto dating from 1889 when Pfitzner was a 19-year-old student, starts like a pious exercise in Schumannesque rumination but takes in startling and richly orchestrated outbursts evoking Wagner’s Venusberg … when he returned to the cello concerto genre in 1935 it was with music of unusual concision, making his typically unsettling mixture of restraint and flamboyance even more effective than usual … the Hyperion team provide a characterful recording, close to the music’s generally expansive sonorities without obscuring its many distinctive details. Alban Gerhardt is an unfailingly charismatic soloist, finding a sense of purpose where others might lapse into aimlessness, and the orchestral support is first-rate' (Gramophone) » More

'The three Cello Concertos … reveal a warmer, more human side to Pfitzner’s character. It’s evident not least in the late A minor Concerto (1943). In this piece, the 74-year-old composer, ill, bereaved and bombed-out, nostalgically recalled the rhapsodic A minor Concerto that he’d written as a student 53 years earlier and believed lost (it was rediscovered in 1975), while basing the slow movement on a 1923 song beginning ‘My end is drawing nigh’. Like the concise, single-span G major Concerto (1935), its rapturous cantilena all organically derived from its opening cello theme, the late A minor offers a sometimes bizarre mix of the lyrical and the whimsical. Gerhardt holds it all together with his sustained singing lines, while Weigle and his Berlin band provide vividly pointillist backing (BBC Music Magazine) » More

'Gerhardt und das Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin unter Sebastian Weigle haben zu einer in sich durchaus stimmigen Interpretation gefunden … ein echter Hinhörer ist das Duo op. 43 für Violine, Cello und kleines Orchester … diese ist wirklich gut geglückt … das passt zu dem schwärmerischen, fantasievollen und weit ausgesponnenen Dialog, der streckenweise an ein Liebesduett erinnert' (NDR, Germany)

Cello Concerto in G major, Op 42
1935; written for Gaspar Cassadó

A tempo –  [1'51]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Completed in 1935, Pfitzner’s Cello Concerto in G major, Op 42, a richly melodic single span, was composed for the cellist Gaspar Cassadó (1897–1966). Pfitzner may not necessarily be the first name to come to mind for a composer whose music is concise and organic, but both these aspects of the composer’s craft are apparent in this beautifully constructed concerto. The thematic material is all derived from the lyrical cello solo (heard over a quiet timpani roll) at the very start of the work. Contrasting with this close integration of musical ideas, Pfitzner explores his material through a cleverly controlled variety of pace. The orchestration is deft and often delicate, never submerging the solo instrument, but full of attractive surprises, not least the tumbling trumpet fanfares that introduce the first of the faster sections. Though the concerto was written for Cassadó, one of the finest cellists of his generation, there is plenty of musical argument at the centre of the work where the soloist takes a subsidiary role, allowing extensive, sometimes witty dialogue to develop between the strings and woodwind. The soloist crowns this with a highly expressive return of the main theme leading to a lovely coda—a restrained, harp-drenched transfiguration of the opening theme, with the soloist bringing the music to a quietly rapturous close.

from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2014

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