This month, on the Chandos Classics label, we are re-releasing our recording of Dvoáks Cello Concerto in B minor and the Konzertstück for Cello and Orchestra by Dohnányi (CHAN 8662), performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Charles Mackerras, with Raphael Wallfisch the featured soloist.
The Cello Concerto in B minor by Dvoák has become one of his most popular works, and perhaps the most popular concerto ever written for the instrument. He was asked to write this piece by a friend of Wagner, the cellist Hanu Wihan. Initially reluctant, Dvoák stated that the cello was indeed a fine orchestral instrument but totally insufficient for a solo concerto. Fortunately, he changed his mind upon hearing Victor Herberts Second Cello Concerto performed in concert, in 1894. The resulting Cello Concerto is richly inventive, full of deep feeling, and perfectly fitted to the cello. Dvoák combined his experience as an orchestral player with an understanding of the cellos distinct textural qualities to produce a grand and emotionally intense work, one of his finest achievements.
Ernst von Dohnányi was highly acclaimed as a pianist-composer, and widely regarded during his lifetime as a successor to Liszt. As a composer, however, he had more in common with Brahms than with Liszt, despite his Hungarian heritage, and his creative output was not limited to the piano. His Konzertstück in D major is in fact a full-scale cello concerto, in three interconnected parts. A lyrical rhapsody, it begins quietly, the cello emerging out of the orchestra and seeming to sing, until parting with a sense of regret at the end.