Two rarely heard works for cello & orchestra from a gifted young soloist

Offenbach & Gulda: Cello Concertos

Edgar Moreau (cello), Orchestra Les Forces Majeures, Raphaël Merlin

The 25 year old French cellist, Edgar Moreau, deserves to be congratulated for coming up with this unusual programme. I suspect that both works on this CD will be new to most readers.

First off we get Offenbach’s Grand Concerto for Cello in G Major ‘Concerto Militaire’. Although Offenbach is best known for his operettas he was, in fact, a virtuoso cellist¹ thus it is surprising that this 40 minute plus work is not better known. This may be partially explained by the fact that the work was butchered in publication and only recently restored to the form that the composer intended.

Some may consider the work to be a little sprawling, but I would urge the listener to sit back and enjoy the jaunty tunes. This is a virtuoso exhibition piece and Moreau makes light of the blistering speeds and draws out the humour within the piece.

Gulda was not only a classical pianist but he also moonlighted on the jazz scene and the listener won’t miss the jazz influences within this five movement Concerto for cello and windband. This is a work of contrasts: jazz rhythms in the opening Overture, references to rock, various classical styles and finally a polka. In the hands of Moreau and the wind players of Les Forces Majeures this is no mere pastiche and together they produce an organic connection between the various parts so as to deliver a highly entertaining performance of this delightful piece.

This recording deserves a wide audience and could draw newcomers into the classical music fold as well as introducing existing lovers of classical music to two contrasting works with which they may not be familiar. Wholeheartedly recommended!

iClassical rating:

¹ Offenbach was known as the Paganini of the cello!