Offenbach may be renowned for his lyric theatrical works but his concert pieces are also in the spotlight in his bicentenary year, particularly the Grand Concerto for cello and orchestra.
The Offenbach bicentenary this year is casting the spotlight on his concert works, offering a different side to the composer familiar from his vocal works for the theatre. This is revealing how his early career saw him travelling widely as one of Europe's great virtuosi, acclaimed as the 'Liszt of the cello'. The Offenbach Edition Keck has brought new publications of his works for cello, stimulating a growth in recordings and performances.
Offenbach's 'Grand Concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre' (1847), bearing the nickname Concerto Militaire because of the dominant role of the snare drum/parade drum (‘caisse roulante’ in French) in its third movement, anticipates much of the ‘militaristic’ colours in Gustav Mahler’s songs and symphonies. The concerto had long been performed in a truncated version, partly arranged and orchestrated from Offenbach’s sketches – made more familiar in the 1980s through the championing and recording by Ofra Harnoy.
The first performance of the new edition of the original manuscript full score of all three movements, benefitting from the researches of Jean-Christophe Keck and rediscovery of significant source materials in archives all over the world, took place in 2004. Jérôme Pernoo recorded this authoritative version on DG's Archiv label with Les Musiciens du Louvre under the baton of Marc Minkowski. Praised as one of the most outstanding and demanding cello concertos of the 19th century, it took 15 years to see a rival recorded version emerge: rising star Edgar Moreau’s rendition with Les Forces Majeures under Raphaël Merlin has just been released to great critical acclaim on Erato. Performances in the bicentenary year see the Grand Concerto performed in France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic with soloists Jérôme Pernoo, Petr Nouzovsky, Gabriel Schwabe and Bruno Philippe.
Other Offenbach cello works with orchestra restored by the OEK, dating from earlier the same decade, include the Introduction, Prière et Boléro recorded for the first time by Camille Thomas on DG, the Hommage à Rossini recorded by Raphaela Gromes on Sony in a further world premiere recording, and the Musette for cello and strings.
To mark the 200th anniversary, the OEK will present a large number of Offenbach’s works for cello and piano – rediscoveries but also well-known titles – for the first time in critical editions, many of them based on Offenbach’s personal copies which bear substantial amendments made by the composer, showing the evolution of his compositional ideas even after his pieces went to print (a phenomenon to be observed as well in many of his stage works). An all-Offenbach recital with Raphaela Gromes presenting works for cello and piano as well as one of the cello duets will be released later this year on the Sony label.
Offenbach was also a significant educator, as witnessed by his progressive set of Cours methodique for two cellos, first published in the same year as the Grand Concerto and available again in the OEK in six published volumes.
A newly rediscovered ballet Le Royaume de Neptune (L'Atlantide), drawn from the 1874 ‘opéra féerie’ version of his immortal opéra bouffe Orphée aux Enfers, is now available again thanks to the OEK. This submarine tableau, running to over 30 minutes, was composed as an alternative for the Ballet des mouches and caused a sensation at its run at the Théâtre de la Gaîté, though it was never published during Offenbach’s lifetime. It was recorded recently by the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester under the baton of Howard Griffiths for the CPO label and this summer will receive its first public performance for almost 150 years on 6 June 2019 with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Debus.
> Visit the relaunched Offenback Edition Keck website
> View recent Offenbach recording employing the OEK
Original Works for Orchestra
Abendblätter Walzer (Evening Papers Waltz)
Offenbach Waltz (American Eagle Waltz) for solo cornet and orchestra
Ouverture à grand orchestre
Le Papillon: Suite by Jean-Christophe Keck after Offenbach's ballet
Souvenir des Bouffes-Parisiens
Orchestral selections from the stage works
Ballet music & larger excerpts:
Les Fées du Rhin Overture
Les Fées du Rhin Ballet & Grande valse
Orphée aux Enfers (version 1874) Ballet des mouches
Orphée aux Enfers (version 1874) Divertissement des heures
La Voyage dans la lune Ballet des flocons de neige
Waltzes from the stage works:
Barbe-Bleue Entracte act III
La Belle Hélène Entracte act II
Le Financier et Savetier Overture
La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein Entracte act III
Monsieur Choufleuri Overture
La Périchole Entracte act II
Un Mari à la porte Overture
La Vie parisienne Entracte act V
Polkas and Galops from the stage works:
La Belle Hélène Polka (Entracte act III)
Les Brigands Polka (Entracte act III)
Le Château à Toto Bourrée (Entracte act II)
La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein Galop (Entracte Scene IV)
Orphée aux Enfers Danse antique (Entracte act III)
Orphée aux Enfers Galop infernal
Orphée aux Enfers (version 1874) Ballet pastoral
La Vie parisienne Boléro (Entracte act III)
La Vie parisienne Polka (Entracte act IV)
> Further information on Work: Grand concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre ("Concerto militaire") (OEK critical edition)
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