Outstanding performances from Steven Isserlis

Haydn & CPE Bach: Cello Concertos

Steven Isserlis (cello/director), The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen

Hyperion has just released a CD featuring the distinguished British cellist, Steven Isserlis as soloist and director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.

In a programme that includes Haydn’s well known Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major, Hob. VIIb:1 and Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major, Hob. VIIb:2 we also hear C P E Bach’s A major concerto and a fascinating arrangement of Mozart’s Geme la tortorella (from La finta giardiniera) by Stephen Isserlis.

Isserlis has recorded the Haydn cello concertos previously with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Roger Norrington on a Sony disc that also contained Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B-Flat Major. That disc won a Radio 3 Building a Library award for the latter work in September 2012. This disc deserves equally high acclaim.

When Haydn wrote his Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major his cellist was Joseph Weigel and he must surely have been a sympathetic musician as well as a skilful player since this work is undoubtedly among the best of Haydn’s concertos; perhaps surpassed only by his Trumpet Concerto in E flat major. In the first movement Isserlis develops a tempo which shows steady poise perfectly complemented by the dotted figuration of the opening theme. Isserlis’ virtuosity is woven into the very heart of this music. In the following adagio his cello almost sings, tenor like, from the outset before he enters into a second cadenza (again his own). In the concluding movement there is suitable contrast between forte and piano and the wide melodic compass of the solo part. This is a good-humoured account with moments of real passion during the occasional visits to the minor key.

Wonderful! This concerto bears repeated listening and the other works combine to form a programme that can enjoyably be listened to in a single sitting thanks to the high quality of the musicianship and the beautifully engineered recording.

iClassical rating: 

Buy it from Presto Classical or listen to extracts and/or download the music from Hyperion Records and you will not be disappointed.