Alban Gerhardt, solo cello
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrew Litton, conductor
The two works recorded here have an interestingly close musical relationship that is belied by their radically different sound-worlds. Prokofiev’s first work for cello and orchestra was abandoned by the composer after an unsuccesful premiere, and the full score remained unpublished for years.
However, a rising star barely in his twenties, Mstislav Rostropovich, found a copy with piano accompaniment and impressed the composer with his performance in December 1947. As Rostropovich remembered from their backstage encounter: ‘Prokofiev told me that after listening carefully to the Concerto he had decided to rewrite it. I reminded him of this each time I met him after that, but without success.’ What followed, in fact, was a completely new work—the Sonata for cello and piano Op 119—and the premiere of that, with Rostropovich eloquently partnered by Sviatoslav Richter (a recording survives), finally persuaded the now-ailing composer to the dramatic revision of the original Concerto.
The resulting Symphony-Concerto is now acknowledged as one of the composer’s late masterpieces.
The young German virtuoso Alban Gerhardt was the soloist in a performance at the BBC Proms in 2008 that convinced a loudly appreciative audience of the merits of this work.
It has been recorded here with the first verson, Cello Concerto No 1, a work of undeniable importance to scholars and music-lovers alike. Andrew Litton conducts the Bergen Symphony Orchestra in their second disc for Hyperion.
"This is a stimulating package, very well played: both artists produce the passionate response demanded of them. Alban Gerhardt has a warm, resonant middle register and Markus Becker is well able to undertake the music’s considerable virtuosity."
"This is music that makes huge technical demands on the players, and the performances are all outstanding; this set represents an important act of rehabilitation for music that is almost unknown’ (The Guardian)
‘It is surprising that the three unaccompanied solo cello suites by Max Reger are not performed more often as an alternative to those of Bach in whose homage they were written. The German cellist Alban Gerhardt brings out their qualities beautifully on this double CD, with their lyrical preludes, profound adagios and witty, effervescent gigues."