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ClassicsOnline Home » KLIEGEL, Maria: Virtuoso Cello Showpieces
This recording of virtuoso cello repertoire ranges from the work of the Mannheim cellist and composer, Franz Danzi to the British composer Buxton Orr’s Carmen Fantasy, the cellist’s answer to Franz Waxman’s famous violin fantasy. Orr’s work opens, unusually, with a cello cadenza based on the Fate motif from Bizet’s opera, which links the familiar themes, such as the Habanera and the Flower Song, used in this dazzling encore piece. The Spanish theme is continued in Gaspar Cassadó’s Lamento de Boabdil, which describes the legendary sorrow of the exiled last Moorish ruler of Granada, Muhammad XII, known to the Spanish as Boabdil. Castelnuovo-Tesdesco’s Figaro Variations takes as it theme the famous Largo al factotum, which appears in various guises with increasing demands for technical virtuosity.
By Tony Way
Both transcriptions and virtuoso originals should make cello lovers very happy!
By David Denton
Music for Cello and Piano
Orr • Danzi • Castelnuovo-Tedesco • Dvorák
Buxton Orr was born in Glasgow in 1924 and was a pupil of Benjamin Frankel at the Guildhall School of Music in London, where he served as a professor from 1965 until 1990. His interest in jazz was reflected in his work as conductor from 1970 to 1980 of the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra and he was founder of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the Guildhall. His compositions reflect various influences, and his earlier career brought a number of film scores. A Carmen Fantasy, for cello and piano, was written for the cellist Robert Cohen for inclusion in a New York recital in October 1985. The work was later arranged for cello and orchestra. The composer points out, in his introduction to the pieces, that Jascha Heifetz had made use of Franz Waxman's Carmen Fantasy as an encore piece, and Orr's A Carmen Fantasy was designed for the same purpose. It opens with a cello cadenza, based on the Fate motif from Bizet's opera, followed by a version of the Polo that served as an entr'acte between the third and fourth acts of the opera, a dance that Bizet had borrowed from Manuel García. Other familiar themes include Carmen's impertinent refusal to answer the interrogation by Captain Zuniga, the Habanera, Don José's Flower Song, and the song with which Carmen lures her lover away with her to the mountains. Finally the Toreador's song appears briefly, to be superseded by the Fate motif, a recurrent element in the work.
Franz Danzi served as a cellist in the famous Mannheim orchestra, choosing to remain in Mannheim when the Electoral court moved to Munich in 1778. In 1783, however, he took his father's place in the Munich orchestra and now continued his career as a composer with his third German opera. Having married a singer, he enjoyed an active career in opera that led to his appointment as deputy Kapellmeister in Munich in 1798. After his wife's death he returned to Mannheim and in 1807 was appointed Kapellmeister in Stuttgart, where he met Weber. In 1812 he moved to Karlsruhe, where he was again able to stage operas by Weber. He was a prolific composer in many genres. His Variations on a theme from Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' was originally written for cello and orchestra. It takes as its source Don Giovanni's attempted seduction of the village girl, Zerlina, with his invitation ' Là ci darem la mano '. The theme is heard first, followed by a first variation in triplets. The second variation breaks the rhythm of the melody and includes passages in demisemiquavers. The A minor variation, marked Tranquillo, leads to a return to A major in a version of the material in rapid demisemiquavers, before moving on to the compound metre of the concluding section of the original duet, ' Andiam, andiam, mio bene '.
Born in Florence in 1895 into a family of Sephardic origin, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco was a pupil of Ildebrando Pizzetti, to whom he owed much. In the period between the wars he established himself as a pianist, appearing as a soloist, accompanist and participant in chamber music, and as a critic for various musical journals. His compositions were heard in Italy and abroad, notably at the festivals of the ISCM. After the Italian racial legislation of 1938 and with the support of Heifetz, Toscanini and Albert Spalding, and with the assurance of employment, he moved to America. From 1940 to 1956 he worked for various film studios in Hollywood, contributing to some 250 productions. At the same time he continued his own work as a composer, with a series of some seventy works of all kinds, including oratorios and cantatas, songs, operas, concertos, guitar music and compositions for the piano. In 1946 he had become an American citizen and until his death in 1968 he taught at the then Los Angeles Conservatory, where his pupils included Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith, John T. Williams and André Previn. His Figaro Variations from 'The Barber of Seville ', described as A Concert Transcription, was dedicated to Gregor Piatigorsky. It takes as its theme that of the famous ' Largo al factotum ', the cavatina in which Figaro proclaims his fame at his first entrance. The piquant harmonies introduced by Castelnuovo-Tedesco add varying colours to the work, as the theme appears in different guises and with various demands for technical virtuosity. A cadenza, echoing the words ' Figaro, Figaro, Figaro! ', is soon followed by a final section of increasing rapidity.
The cellist Gaspar Cassadó was born in Barcelona, and had his first lessons from his father, before entering the Escuela Municipal de Música, making his début as a cellist in 1904. Moving to Paris, he studied with Casals and played chamber music in a trio with his father, the pianist, and his brother Agustín, the violinist of the ensemble. He embarked on an international career as a cellist in 1918, collaborating with distinguished colleagues and at one time playing in a trio with Louis Kentner and Yehudi Menuhin. His Lamento de Boabdil, written in 1931 and dedicated to Casals, refers in its title and elegiac contents to the lament of the last Moorish ruler of Granada, Muhammad XII, known to the Spanish as Boabdil. Granada had been greatly weakened by rivalry among members of the ruling family. Boabdil replaced his father as ruler in 1482, but was at enmity with his uncle. Various attempts were made at a rapprochement with the armies of Castile and Aragon, but finally Granada was besieged and fell to the Catholic Kings in 1492. Boabdil is said to have looked back in sorrow as he saw his conquered city and to have been reproached by his mother, with the words 'You weep as a woman over what you did not know how to defend as a man'. This, and similar incidents, form the basis of many romances or moriscos, Spanish ballads from the period. Cassadó's short piece reflects the legendary sorrow of the exiled monarch.
Antonín Dvorák made his early career as a viola-player in Prague. It was not until 1871 that he resigned from the orchestra, devoting himself more fully to composition, as his music began to attract favourable local attention. With the encouragement of Brahms, he found a wider market for his work through the former's publisher, and by the later years of his life had won an international reputation. His work is imbued with the spirit of his native country, both in compositions of overt Czech resonance, and in the works written during the period he spent in America in the early 1890s.
Dvorák's Rondo in G minor for cello and orchestra, Op. 94, was written in October 1893, an arrangement of the earlier work for cello and piano that he had completed in December 1891. It was designed for the cellist Hanuš Wihan, who had joined the teaching staff of Prague Conservatory in 1887. It was to Wihan that Dvorák dedicated his Cello Concerto of 1895, and with him that he played the original version of the Rondo in a Prague concert in March 1892. The work is a fine vehicle for a virtuoso performer, and a testimony to Wihan's technical ability. Klid or Waldesruhe (Silent Woods) was originally the fifth of a set of six pieces for piano duet, Ze Š umavy (From the Bohemian Forest), completed in January 1884. Dvorák arranged it for cello and orchestra, for the primary purpose of a concert tour with Hanuš Wihan, and it was included in the Prague programme of March 1892, in a version for cello and piano.
Dvorák wrote his Sonatina in G major, Op. 100, in America in November 1893, completing it a fortnight before the first performance of the Symphony 'From the New World' in New York. The sonatina is equally characteristic of this period in which the composer satisfied feelings of nostalgia by staying with Czech friends in Spillville, Iowa, while drawing on new influences, whether drawn from Longfellow's Hiawatha or from the spirituals he heard. The first movement announces its origin in a theme of predominantly pentatonic outline, after a suggestion of the song Clementine, while the G minor second movement, known to many as Indian Lament and so published in an edition by Fritz Kreisler, uses a theme that had come to the composer as he visited the Minnehaha Falls. The Scherzo again suggests both Bohemia and America in its first melody, and there are continuing echoes of the New World Symphony and the American Quartet in the last movement. The sonatina makes an effective work for cello and piano in an arrangement by Oscar Hartwieg.
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KLIEGEL, Maria: Virtuoso Cello Showpieces