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This exciting disc, Edgar Moreau - Weinberg, Dutilleux Cello Concertos, put out by Warner Classics is highly recommended. The album will be released on 1 September 2023 and if you do not buy any other recordings this year, I urge you to get this one.
Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996) was an important Soviet composer who was born in Poland but moved to Russia at the outbreak of World War 2, and became a close friend of Shostakovich. He was largely unnoticed by much of the musical establishment of the time, but was persecuted in various ways, including his father being murdered in Minsk, evidently under the order of Stalin. In recent years his music has enjoyed some revival and this cello concerto, written for Mstislav Rostropovich, is a fine example of his work.
The opening movement, with its rather sorrowful and reflective opening theme, is quite romantic and rhapsodic in nature and immediately one is struck by the fine solo sound of French cellist Edgar Moreau, who possesses an innate understanding of this work. The WDR Sinfonieorchester, led here by Latvian conductor Andris Poga, is also a very fine ensemble.
Listen — Weinberg: Adagio (Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in C minor, Op 43)
(5054197489334 track 1, 5:15-6:03) ℗ 2023 WDR mediagroup GmbH under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd :
The second movement starts off slowly and sadly, but this soon gives way to a more dancelike section in the rhythm of a habanera, but there are also Klezmer interjections in there. The orchestra and soloist take their turn at being in the spotlight, but overall the cello is very much to the fore, with the orchestra providing accompaniment and additional colour when not being highlighted. I am very fond of this rather nostalgic movement.
Listen — Weinberg: Moderato
(Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in C minor, Op 43)
(5054197489334 track 2, 0:45-1:31) ℗ 2023 WDR mediagroup GmbH under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd :
The third movement is a rather boisterous dance and the virtuosity of the soloist comes to the fore. He is a technically very secure player and readily identifies with the spirit of the music he is playing. This is a Scherzando with trio-like section and a classic cadenza, and is music that is thoroughly enjoyable. All performers enter into the joyous spirit.
Listen — Weinberg: Allegro - Cadenza
(Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in C minor, Op 43)
(5054197489334 track 3, 5:15-6:04) ℗ 2023 WDR mediagroup GmbH under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd :
The last movement starts fast but fairly quietly and is quite rhapsodic and mellow in mood before a spirited and joyous dance takes over. It is a rondo, so the mood changes constantly. The music is warm and spirited in places, but there is a quiet unassuming quality to the work that I find very attractive. This concerto will be a real discovery for those who do not know it. The last half of the movement is linked thematically to the first movement, and it ends in the same spirit.
The other work on the disk is one of my favourites: Henri Dutilleux's Tout un Monde Lointain, written some fifteen years later than the Weinberg, but it also had Rostropovich in mind. The work was inspired by the composer reading various works of the poet Charles Baudelaire, who had a strong influence on him. The musical language is a lot more modern sounding than the previous romantic sounding concerto and it is one of the twentieth century's most important works for cello and orchestra.
The opening movement begins with an ascending figure for the solo cello that then descends. The orchestra soon comes in with a rather veiled background of strings. This is an atmospheric movement in which Dutilleux shows off the cello's high register at times, as he was really impressed by Rostropovich's sound. At times there is a remote off-worldly quality to this work, but at other times, it reminds me of a busy city street.
Listen — Dutilleux: Énigme (Concerto for Cello and Orchestra)
(5054197489334 track 5, 3:00-3:46) ℗ 2023 WDR mediagroup GmbH under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd :
The second movement starts slowly and rather dreamily, as if one is adrift, and the cello writing is again written to showcase the remarkable playing of Rostropovich's high register. Edgar Moreau is surely a worthy proponent of this beautiful and lyrical style of playing, and already has an impressive technical command of the instrument as well.
The short and rather turbulent third moment is more rhythmical and texutural in nature, rather than lyrical, showcasing the virtuosity of both soloist and orchestra.
The fourth movement is reflective and serene, yet reflects a kind of alien world as there is a sense of remote solitude here, but at the same time, this is a very beautiful movement. The calmness crescendos at the end, moving into the last movement, reminding one of an emerging sun.
Listen — Dutilleux: Miroirs (Concerto for Cello and Orchestra)
(5054197489334 track 8, 2:37-3:25) ℗ 2023 WDR mediagroup GmbH under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd :
The final movement is full of energy and light, and requires great virtuosity by all concerned. It is rather cheerful in nature and is a fitting end to this rather remarkable work, of which I am very fond.
Listen — Dutilleux: Hymne (Concerto for Cello and Orchestra)
(5054197489334 track 9, 2:04-2:51) ℗ 2023 WDR mediagroup GmbH under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd :
This new recording is full of interest from beginning to end, with an exceptional soloist and orchestra. The works are very different from each other, and I feel that this is a landmark recording. The programme notes also give a good background, particularly to the influence of Baudelaire on the music of Dutilleux and how he has applied this in this work.
Copyright © 22 August 2023