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Britten: Cello Symphony, Sonata & Suites [Double CD]

Alban Gerhardt , Steven Osborne , BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra , Benjamin Britten , Andrew Manze Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description

Product Description

A major release at the start of Britten's anniversary celebrations. Britten's long friendship with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the most inspiring and fruitful musical collaborations in history. It led directly to the composition of some of the most important works for cello of the twentieth century.

Alban Gerhardt, among the greatest living exponents of the instrument, performs this body of works in its entirety. In the Cello Sonata he is partnered by Steven Osborne, whose Hyperion recording of Britten's Piano Concerto received a Gramophone Award. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Manze join Gerhardt for the Cello Symphony, Britten's only substantial piece of absolute symphonic music.

The astonishing music for solo cellothe three suites plus the miniature Tema 'Sacher'completes the set. The suites are repositories of a huge number of compositional and string-playing techniques, acknowledging their debt to Bach but also demonstrating all the imagination and emotional scope for which the composer is revered.

Review

A must-have set for all Britten enthusiasts. Performance ****(*) Recording **** BBC Music Magazine, Feb'13. Despite the cold war, Britten developed an important circle of Russian-Soviet friendships in the early 1960s, among whom was the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. After hearing "Slava" play the first cello concerto by another in this group, Shostakovich, Britten agreed to write the Sonata in C Op 65 (1960-61) for him, followed by the ever elusive Cello Symphony a huge piece in which cello and orchestra wrestle in close combat as equal partners, the solo instrument at once percussive, lyrical and elegiac, at times bursting up from the dense orchestral writing as if from under water. With pianist Steven Osborne and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as sensitive, expert partners in these two works, Alban Gerhardt is beautifully supported. This poetic, virtuosic player makes a powerful case for the three unaccompanied Cello Suites on the second disc. There's no shortage of recordings of these suites compare those by Truls Mørk, Paul Watkins or Pieter Wispelwey, as well as the original Rostropovich but this is as good as any. --Observer, 27/01/13

Thanks to his friendship with the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, no solo instrument preoccupied Britten more than the cello during his maturity. This two-disc collection of all the works he wrote for Rostropovich follows fine single discs built around the youthful concertos for piano with Osborne as soloist and violin, but here we have Britten at the height of his powers, inspired by the charismatic personality of one of the 20th century s greatest musicians. The set's largest work is the Cello Symphony of 1963, Britten s last substantial orchestral work, in which he attempted to write a concerto and symphony rolled into one. It is a big, four-movement piece that he originally suggested might be called a Sinfonia concertante, like Prokofiev s revision of an early concerto for Rostropovich. This dark, knotty yet virtuosic work is less frequently performed than the more accessible earlier concertos, but Gerhardt makes one of the strongest cases for it on disc since the composer's own recording with the cellist. While his partnership with Osborne in the Sonata Britten's first work for Rostropovich sparkles, he truly comes into his own in the solo suites, the most personal music here, inspired by the keynote works of Bach. CD OF THE WEEK --Sunday Times 27/01/13

The music world s obsession with anniversaries means that this year we shall not be short of discs and performances of Benjamin Britten (born 1913), nor indeed of Wagner and Verdi (born 1813). None of them is exactly a stranger to the record catalogue, the concert hall or the opera house, but Hyperion has sensibly got in early with this fine two-disc set of Britten's works for cello. All of them the Cello Sonata (1960-61), Cello Symphony (1963-4), the three solo suites (1964, 1967 and 1971-4) and the Tema Sacher (1976) were composed for Mstislav Rostropovich, whose exuberance and profound, passionate intensity as a musician and as a person are powerfully reflected in the music. Rostropovich's own Sixties recording of the Cello Symphony with Britten conducting the English Chamber Orchestra is still available (London 425 100-2), as are his interpretations of the first two cello suites (London 421 859-2), but there is every reason to explore this new set by Alban Gerhardt. He is fully in command of the technical subtleties, detailed expressive facets and structural scope of the Cello Symphony, and Andrew Manze, associate guest conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, has the measure of the music's spectrum of deep reflectiveness and dramatic force. Strongly and sensitively partnered by Steven Osborne, Gerhardt gives a wonderfully vital performance of the Cello Sonata. --Telegraph

Alban Gerhardt's performances(are) gorgeously opulent and he revels in the composer's aural inventiveness. --IRR, Feb'13

The music world s obsession with anniversaries means that this year we shall not be short of discs and performances of Benjamin Britten (born 1913), nor indeed of Wagner and Verdi (born 1813). None of them is exactly a stranger to the record catalogue, the concert hall or the opera house, but Hyperion has sensibly got in early with this fine two-disc set of Britten's works for cello. All of them the Cello Sonata (1960-61), Cello Symphony (1963-4), the three solo suites (1964, 1967 and 1971-4) and the Tema Sacher (1976) were composed for Mstislav Rostropovich, whose exuberance and profound, passionate intensity as a musician and as a person are powerfully reflected in the music. Rostropovich's own Sixties recording of the Cello Symphony with Britten conducting the English Chamber Orchestra is still available (London 425 100-2), as are his interpretations of the first two cello suites (London 421 859-2), but there is every reason to explore this new set by Alban Gerhardt. He is fully in command of the technical subtleties, detailed expressive facets and structural scope of the Cello Symphony, and Andrew Manze, associate guest conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, has the measure of the music's spectrum of deep reflectiveness and dramatic force. Strongly and sensitively partnered by Steven Osborne, Gerhardt gives a wonderfully vital performance of the Cello Sonata, alert to the cunning interplay between the two instruments and to the rhythmic wiliness that characterises the opening movement and the pizzicato second. In the solo suites, where Britten emulates Bach by giving the cello line such a broad harmonic perspective, Gerhardt's playing is supple, richly coloured and articulated with the utmost finesse. These performances demonstrate a mature affinity with Britten's highly personal style in an important and compelling body of music. ***** --Telegraph

Product Description

Symphonie pour violoncelle & orchestre - Sonate pour violoncelle, op.72 - Suites pour violoncelle n°2 & n°3 - Tema Sacher / Alban Gerhardt, violoncelle - Steven Osborne, piano - BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra - Andrew Manze, direction
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