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