Trilogy

Author: 
Stanley Sadie

Trilogy

  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 9
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 9
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

The fact that Ofra Harnoy chooses to record the Grutzmacher arrangement of Boccherini speaks for itself: this is a CD for cello-fanciers, not for those who like eighteenth-century music. I am not being 'authenticist' in saying that; rather, I am expressing my aversion (which readers may have noticed before) to music that mixes styles so crudely as to be, in my view, ultimately styleless and therefore offensive. That said, there is no arguing that this is very fine cello playing. I won't comment on the 'Boccherini', as there is no proper basis for critical discussion of the style of performance, except to say that Harnoy is not afraid to take the music on Grutzmacher's own terms and to allow it a generous measure of sentimentality, especially in the Adagio where she chooses a decidedly slow tempo––though the finale is certainly done with plenty of spirit and thrust.
Josef Myslivecek, a good friend of Mozart's, was a gifted composer, particularly of opera. This concerto has a most appealing slow movement, beginning poetically as a soft, sustained note on the cello steals through the texture, and continuing with highly expressive galant figuration. In the outer movements, competent but rather ordinary invention, Harnoy has, and takes, plenty of opportunities for showing her capacities in the upper reaches of her instrument; her light, pure, slightly wiry tone and clean articulation are a delight. She uses more portamento than Myslivecek might have expected, and in rather different contexts, but does it with purpose and control. Her cadenza in the first movement is, however, disagreeably violent for the context; that in the Viotti first movement is far too long, elaborate and romantic. In this work––the attribution is not absolutely secure––she justifiably uses a weightier tone, with a rather heavy eloquence in the Adagio.
In sum, it is playing that, with its excellent intonation, pleasing tone and polished bow techniques, admirers of good cello playing are sure to enjoy.'

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