Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top 50 Most Recommended Cello Concertos

Top 50 Most Recommended Cello Concertos
One per composer

Inspired with my Top 60 Most Recommended Violin Concertos that I posted years ago, which seemingly gain lots of visitors, I going to list out 50 most recommended in Cello concertos. As the nature of this task, it will only limited to my knowledge about the genre, but I think most of mainstreams (and non-mainstream) repertoire is included. As with the violin concertos, there are tons of pieces from Baroque and Classical era that hardly can included due to my limited knowledge, so the list is heavily Romantic era onward.

I will group these Cello Concertos into three groups, (1) Mainstreams repertoire, which probably best tested by time (2) Underrated repertoire that should make it to the mainstream but only less popular (3) hardcore list for cello concerto,  rarely seen in performance but still they are gems in the genre. Btw, the list is technically not only in form of cello concertos, but rather works for cello and orchestra. This is to accommodate popular pieces such as Bruch's  Kol Nidreai (#5) or Bloch's Schelomo for cello solo and orchestration (#10) that technically not a cello concertos. Also included are double concertos (Brahms' #6) and triple concertos (Beethoven's #12). Overall, all major composers were selected. The missing major composers are Mendelssohn, Schubert, Sibelius, Stravinsky etc that didn't have (notable) cello concertos in their port folio. For some pieces, I write in short commentaries. Recommended recording is in Amazon links.

Top 50 Most Recommended Cello Concertos

Top 1 - 10 - the mainstream repertoire
Top of the list is Lalo's cello concerto.  Arguably, Lalo's Cello Concerto is also one of most popular concerto in classical music. Oftenly in live performing up to this day, and tons of recordings available. The second one is very personal choice and I picked up Dvorak's cello concerto in B minor as #2 recommendation. Fans of Dvorak's Symphony no.9 will found this familiar. The concerto is very "American" in feel, something that similar to his popular string quartet no.12 "American". Elgar and Shostakovich are the other most popular cello concerto in history. Then Brahms' double concerto. Saint-Saens is another personal choice that make it to top 10. Saint-Saens has two cello concerto and both are pretty close each other. Kabalevsky is the 'outsider' that make it to top 10. Same with Khachaturian, in which his violin concertos is more popular, but his cello concerto deserve good place in the repertoire. Bruch and Bloch's cello solo for orchestra is also very popular and must listen for fans of cello concerto. For recommended recording click on the link to Amazon.

1. Lalo  - Cello Concerto in D minor (1876) records [by Janos Starker, du Pre]
2. Dvorak - Cello Concerto in B minor Op.104 (1894-1895) records [by Pablo Casals, Moser]
3. Elgar - Cello concerto in Em Op. 85 records [by Pablo Casals, Paul Watkins]
4. Shostakovich - Cello concerto no.1 in Eb Op. 107 and No.2 in G records [by Rostropovich]
5. Bruch - Kol Nidrei Op.47 records [by Pierre Fournier]
6. Brahms - Double Concerto in Am, Op. 102 for violin, cello and orch. records [by Shaham/Wang]
7. Saint-Saens - Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor Op.33 and No.2 in Dm Op.119 records [by Isserlis]
8. Kabalevsky - Cello Concerto No.1 in Cm Op. 49 and No.2 in Gm Op.77 records [by Wallfisch]
9. Khachaturian - Cello Concerto in E Minor (1946) records [by Shakshovskaya]
10. Bloch - Schelomo Rhapsodie Hébraïque for cello solo and large orchestra (1916) records [by Casals]

Top 11-25:
of which the Baroque and Classical era must be represented. I picked Carl Emmanuel Bach's concerto in A major for this late Baroque era, and Haydn's concerto no.1 in C for Classical era. Bach and Haydn wrote more concertos but my personal favorite are these. Beethoven's triple concerto is very popular, only that this is not pure cello concerto, so can't put in the top 10. Myaskovsky is the next must listen piece, his concertos by him are extremely good. Tchaikovsky is also very popular but it is more a one variations rather than a concerto.

11. Bach, Carl Emmanuel - Cello Concerto in A major records [by Tim Hugh]
12. Beethovens -  Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C major, Op. 56 records [by Yo-Yo Ma, Perlman, Barenboim]
13. Myaskovsky, Nikolai - Cello Concerto in C Minor, Op. 66 records [by Tarasova]
14. Strauss - Don Quixote for Cello, viola and orchestra records [by Rostropovich]
15. Prokofiev - Cello Concerto Op.58 records [by Gerhardt]
16. Dohnányi - Konzertstück in D major Op 12 records
17. Schumann  - Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (1850) records [by Rostropovich]
18. Penderecki - Cello Concerto No. 1 (1972) and No.2 (1982) records [by Noras]
19. Pfitzner - Cello Concerto No.1 in G Op.42 (1935) and No.2 in Am Op.52 ('43) records [by Geringas, Gerhardt]
20. Rubinstein - Cello Concerto in Dm Op.96 and in Am Op.65 records [by Thomas-Mifune]
21. Tchaikovsky - Variations on a Rococo Theme, this is the more popular cello pieces to his unfinished Cello Concerto in B minor (1893) records [by Vardai]
22. Stanford, Sir Charles - Cello Concerto in D minor (1879) records [by Rosefield]
23. Walton - Cello Concerto (1956) records [by Watkins, Poltera]
24. Williams, John - Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1994) records [by du Pre, Yo-Yo Ma]
25. Vieuxtemps - Cello Concerto in Am Op. posth 46 and in Bm Op. posth 50 records [by Gerhardt, Hallynck]
26. Haydn - Cello Concerto No.1 in C H. 7b/1 records [by Yo-Yo Ma, Rostropovich]

top 26-50:
these are following list for eager fans to dig out more into cello concerto. they are mostly randomly sorted actually. Notable are Kalevi Aho concerto for 2 cellos from the 21st century era. Two Classical era composer that are famous in cello concertos are Luigi Boccherini and Pleyel. I picked up one concertos from each of them, in which they wrote many more.

27. Aho, Kalevi - Concerto for 2 Cellos and Orchestra (2003) records [by Lindberg]
28. Lutoslawski - Cello Concerto (1969) records [by Rostropovich]
29. Barber - Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 22 (1945) records [by Poltera]
30. Bax - Cello Concerto in G minor (1932) records [by Wallfisch]
31. D'Albert - Cello concerto in C Op. 20  (1899) [by Gerhardt, Zollman]
32. Boccherini - Cello Concerto No. 9 in B-flat major, G. 482 records [by Moller, Bronzi]
33. Hindemith - Cello Concerto O.3 (1916) records [by Poltera]
34. Korngold - Cello Concerto Op.37 (Deception) 1946 records [by Steckel]
35. Ligeti - Cello Concerto for Siegfried Palm records [by Siegfried Palm]
36. Rozsa - Cello Concerto Op.32 records [by Harell]
37. Delius - Cello Concerto (1921) records [by Watkins]
38. Dutilleux - Cello Concerto "Tout un monde lointain" records [by Rostropovich]
39. Glazunov - Concerto-ballata in C, Op. 108 (1931) records [by Rudin]
40. Gulda  - Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra (1980) records [by Schiff]
41. Gernsheim, Friedrich - Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 78 records [by Gerhardt]
42. Moeran E.J. - Cello Concerto in B minor (1945) records [by Johnston]
43. Atterberg -  Concerto for cello & orchestra in C minor, Op 21 records [by Truls Mørk
44. Monn, Georg Matthias - Cello Concerto in Gm, re-arranged by Schoenberg  records [by Zipperling]
45. Raff - Cello Concerto No.1 in D minor Op.193 and No.2 in G Op. Posth records [by Müller-Schott]
46. Popper  - Cello Concerto No.2 in E minor Op.24 (1880) and other four concertos records [by Wen-Sinn Yang]
47. Britten - Cello Symphony, Op. 68 (1963) records [by Rostropovich]
48. Herbert, Victor - Cello Concerto No. 2 in E minor, Op. 30 (1894) and no.1 in D records [by Capucon]
49. Volkmann - Cello Concerto in A minor Op.33 (1853) records [by Gerhardt, Wohlmacer]
50. Pleyel - Cello Concerto in C (1782-84) Ben.101 records [by Szabo]

other notable concertos:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

George Onslow String Quartets Opus 8 and 10 - Quatuor Ruggieri

George Onslow (1784-1853)
Performer : Quatuor Ruggieri
Label: Aparte
Release: 2015

Quatuor Ruggieri recorded more George Onslow string quartets. Having previously recorded three string quartets, they added three more on this CD. This time they recorded Opus 8 no.1 and no.3. The first quartet in Opus 8 already exposed to us by the Mandelring Quartet, yet no.3 in A major is likely a first recording of this. In the third quartet is Op.10 No.3 in E flat major. This make it that more George Onslow's earlier period string quartets are being available for public now.

The CD notes:

George Onslow (1784-1853) was a French composer of English descent. His wealth, position and personal tastes allowed him to pursue a path unfamiliar to most of his French contemporaries - one that was closer to that of German romantic composers. His principal output was chamber music and Onslow's efforts expanded the audience for a genre that was not popular in Paris at the time. Amongst the many works he wrote, his String Quartets stand out for their unique spirit of invention. This recording by the Quatuor Ruggieri bring out both the intelligence and Parisian charm of these unjustly neglected works.

Ruggieri Quartet:
Gilone Gaubert Jacques, violin
Grattard Charlotte, violin
Delphine Grimbert,  viola
Emmanuel Jacques,  cello


String Quartet in C minor, Op. 8 No. 1
1 Largo / Allegro agitato 7:51
2 Adagio 5:55
3 Minuetto allegretto 2:30
4 Finale presto 3:45

String Quartet in E flat major, Op. 10 No. 3
5 Largo / Allegro con brio 5:51
6 Andantino sostenuto 7:14
7 Minuetto allegro (air de danse des montagnes d'Auvergne) 3:15
8 Allegro vivace 5:37

String Quartet in A major, Op. 8 No. 3
9 Allegro 8:06
10 Andante non troppo lento 3:55
11 Minuetto allegro 3:30
12 Finale vivace 4:43

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carl Goldmark String Quartets and String Quintets - Haydn Quartett (2015)

Composer: Carl Goldmark (1830-1915)
Performer: Haydn Quartett
Label: Gramola
Releases : May 2015

Carl Goldmark (or something, Karl), best known for his opera "The Queen of Sheba", Rustic Wedding Symphony and Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, is Hungarian composer of Jewish descendant. Carl widely regarded as one of Vienna-based composer. He was born in 1830, just a few year after Haydn's Op.76. Less remember by many chamberian lover, Carl Goldmark String Quartet in B-flat major Op.8 is existed in this world. The quartet noted to be produce around 1860. Making it is as  interesting specimen of late Vienna Classical period. The quartet recorded by Haydn Quartett to be paired with Carl's String Quintet in A minor Op.9It should be noted also that this string quartet is rarely found in recording before. So let's celebrated and heard this exiting pieces done by the talented Haydn Quartett.

Streichquartett,Streichquintett Carl Goldmark  -  BUY IT HERE
Haydn Quartett / Rudolf Leopold

Streichquartett B-Dur op. 8 / String Quartet in B-flat Major Op.8
1 I. Andante - Allegro moderato    
2 II. Andante sostenuto 9:51
3 III. Allegro vivace 3:02
4 IV. Allegro molto 7:56  
Strecihquintett a-Moll op. 9  / String Quintet in A minor op.9
5 I. Allegro molto 16:01    
6 II. Andante con moto 8:33
7 III. Allegro molto 4:16
8 IV. Andante maestoso - Allegro 9:09

Haydn Quartett
Fritz Kircher (first violin)
Martin Kocsis (second violin)
Gerswind Olthoff (viola)
Nikolai New (cello)
Rudolf Leopold (cello)

new Carl Goldmark chamber piece records by Gramola 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

Felix Blumenfeld - Theophil Richter - String Quartets (2015)

Composers: Felix Blumenfeld (1863-1936) , Theophil Richter (1872-1941)
Performer: Odessa String Quartet
Label: Naxos America
Release: May 2015

Theophil Richter is father of great Soviet pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997).  Theophil Richter worked in Odessa at the St. Paul's Church, at the opera and at the conservatory and fell 1941 Stalinist repression victims. According to Sviatoslav, Theophil indeed lived in Vienna for about 20 years. This string quartet in one of Theophil's many composition. While Felix Blumenfeld is widely known as Russian pianist and composer. String Quartet in F major Op.26 by Felix will be world premiere as recording by Odessa String Quartet, all together in this CD. The works will be a valuable addendum to our extensive knowledge of late Romantic era string quartet.

CD notes;
Aside from some smaller piano pieces, the String Quartet in F major is the only remaining composition by Theofil Richter, father of pianist Sviatoslav Richter, who preserved the manuscript. In this work, Theofil Richter presented his compositional mastery in the sophisticated genre of the string quartet. Felix Blumenfelds String Quartet Op. 26 in F major (1898) captured first prize of the St. Petersburg Chamber Music Society (Russia). This powerful piece is characterized by a wealth of melodic imagination. The Odessa String Quartet gives these works their world premiere recordings. 

Theophil Richter (1872–1941) ; Felix Blumenfeld (1863–1936): String Quartets
World Premiere Recordings - BUY IT HERE

Odessa String Quartet:
Natalya Litvinova & Leonid Piskun (Vl)
Iya Komarova (Va)
Sergei Scholz (Vc)

Theophil Ricter String Quartet in F major
1 Moderato 08:51
2 Andante 06:28
3 Tempo giusto à la Valse 08:40
4 Allegro 06:32

Felix Blumenfeld String Quartet F major, op. 26

5 Allegro 06:41
6 Presto 05:40
7 Andantino 07:05
8 Finale. Allegro molto 07:39

  Total Time: 57:39

Carl Czerny - String Quartets (2015)

Composer: Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Performer : Sheridan Ensemble
Label: Capriccio
Release: May 2015

This is an important release of Carl Czerny's string quartet cycle. It is only believe that Czerny composed about 20 of string quartets as mentioned in Wikipedia. Not much details is known afterward. The only famous is String Quartet in C minor, edited by Bernard Pauler only in 2006. Apparently now, a project to recorded some of Czerny's quartets is on the way. We got a beautiful 2 CD of the quartets done by Sheridan Ensemble. As the book notes :

Known as a piano teacher, with whose works almost every piano pupil should be familiar and possibly also as a pupil of Beethoven, Carl Czerny enjoys practically no fame as a composer today. The composing maniac (round about 800 published works) acquired a great reputation (and wealth) from piano teaching and writing educational works for the piano and compositions the market expected from him and from which he earned a lot of money. At the moment, seven quartets are recorded, four of which were probably intended for publication. Czerny composed in the tradition of Haydn and Beethoven. Echoes of Mendelssohn can be discerned as well as a romantic style full of drama and profundity of expression. The quartets have only been passed down as manuscripts from Czernys estate, which can be found in the archives of the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna. 

Seven quartets being recorded! So, we'll see at least one more volume of Carl Czerny's quartet. Sample can be heard on Sheridan Ensemble website. As the website suggest, Sheridan Ensemble is found by cellist Anna Carewe and probably based in Germany (?) and they are not exclusively string quartet but rather, an ensemble.

Carl Czerny - String Quartets  WORLD PREMIERE
Sheridan Ensemble - BUY IT HERE
CD 1
1. String Quartet in A Minor: I. Allegro espressivo ma animato
2. String Quartet in A Minor: II. Andante espressivo
3. String Quartet in A Minor: III. Scherzo. Vivace
4. String Quartet in A Minor: IV. Finale. Quasi presto
5. String Quartet in D Minor: I. Allegro moderato
6. String Quartet in D Minor: II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
7. String Quartet in D Minor: III. Adagio
8. String Quartet in D Minor: IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
CD 2
9. String Quartet in D Major: I. Allegro molto vivace e giocoso
10. String Quartet in D Major: II. Andantino quasi allegretto
11. String Quartet in D Major: III. Scherzo. Molto vivace
12. String Quartet in D Major: IV. Finale. Allegro vivace
13. String Quartet in E Minor: I. Allegro affetuoso
14. String Quartet in E Minor: II. Andante poco sostenuto
15. String Quartet in E Minor: III. Scherzo. Vivace - Trio. Un poco tranquillo
16. String Quartet in E Minor: IV. Finale. Allegro vivace

Christian Ernst Graf - Five String Quartets (2015)

Composer: Christian Ernst Graf (1723 – 1804)
Performer : Via Nova Quartet
Label: CPO
Release: May 2015

CPO has once again show their attention to unknown Classical era of string quartet pieces. Christian Ernst Graf, only known as German Kappelmeister and composer has been recorded to has at least six string quartets composition. Via Nova Quartet is the one who going to premiere his composition into a record. The CD notes said:

About Christian Ernst Graf (1723-1804) little is known, but we do have sources enabling an understanding of his music. Just prior to Graf's death, H. C. Koch published the most important music lexicon of his times. Like this lexicon, Graf's music documents the eventful stylistic developments from baroque to classicism. Graf's clear, intelligent music links all sorts of heterogeneous melodic ideas, sequences, varies or imitates them in playful alternation and provides contrast with chromatic counterparts. The Via Nova Quartet interprets his five string quartets on historical instruments. 

The exact tracks and information about this CD is also little known at the moment. Let's hope we can quickly heard this exciting neglected pieces.

Christian Ernts Graf - Five String Quartets

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Joachim Raff - String Quartets Nos 2,3,4,8 - Mannheimer String Quartet (2015)

Composer: Joachim Raff (1822-1882)
Performer: Mannheimer String Quartet
Label: CPO
Release: March 2015

Although we already exposed to Raff's string quartet via the Quartetto Milano records, here comes one more recording of Raff. The highlight of this CD is the quartet No.8. As we know, Joachim Raff write a three part string quartet "sub cycle" in his late quartets, starting with quartet No.6 in C minor "Suite in Ancient Style", No.7 in D minor "Die schöne Müllerin / The Maid of the Mill", and No.8 in "Suite in Canon Form". This CD is one of known recording for quartet Nos 8. The works is a giant composition creativeness by Raff.

Joachim Raff himself is unique character. He was living exactly in the height of Romantic era, having full access to Liszt as his teacher, then most probably Clara Schumann all the way to Richard Strauss. His eight string quartets are all ambitious in composition.

Joachim Raff: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, 4 & 8
Mannheimer Streichquartett - CPO


1. String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 90: I. Rasch, jedoch ruhig 15:02
2. String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 90: II. Rasch 07:05
3. String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 90: III. Langsam, doch nicht schleppend 09:28
4. String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 90: IV. Rasch 09:08

5. String Quartet No. 3 in E Minor, Op. 136: I. Allegro 12:09
6. String Quartet No. 3 in E Minor, Op. 136: II. Allegro con moto 05:08
7. String Quartet No. 3 in E Minor, Op. 136: III. Andante con moto 10:17
8. String Quartet No. 3 in E Minor, Op. 136: IV. Allegro con spirito 06:03


1. String Quartet No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 137: I. Allegro patetico 09:46
2. String Quartet No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 137: II. Allegro, non troppo vivo, quasi allegretto 03:48
3. String Quartet No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 137: III. Andante 09:56
4. String Quartet No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 137: IV. Finale: Presto  06:58

"Suite in Canonic Form"
5. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3,  I. Marsch: Allegro 04:31
6. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3, II. Sarabande: Andante, moderato assai 02:19
7. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3, III. Capriccio: Vivace 02:28
8. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3, IV. Arie (Doppelkanon): Quasi larghetto 04:43
9. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3, V. Gavotte und Musette: Allegro 02:06
10. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3, VI. Menuett: Allegro molto 03:32
11. String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 192, No. 3, VII. Gigue: Allegro 02:58