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Lionel Sainsbury: Cello Concerto/John Foulds: Cello Concerto

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Mar. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Epoch British Music
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,625 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD
Lionel Sainsbury's Violin Concerto caused something of a sensation when it was issued by Dutton in 2010 and this 'Cello Concerto dating from 1999, if not quite as fine, is also enormously attractive and rewarding. Sainsbury's style is highly melodic and tonal, very much in the tradition of Walton and Barber. Syncopated rhythms are a particular feature. What makes this concerto so impressive is the way in which it grows organically. Structural divisions are blurred and the music has a wonderful lyrical impulse. There is no trace of academicism even though every phrase derives from what has gone before, not only within movements but between them. You will enjoy this concerto even at a first hearing and will want to return to it often.

The first movement begins in D minor with a strongly syncopated main theme. This movement nods towards sonata form, including a central "development" section which makes great play of an expressive motif clearly derived from earlier material.

After a short introduction derived from material from the first movement, the oboe sings the slow movement's main theme. There are two other important ideas, a rocking theme which is to flower later in the movement and a fine tune first heard in the orchestra at 3 mins 30 secs. However, as in the first movement, what impresses most is the music's inevitability and avoidance of obvious structural signposts.

As in the Violin Concerto, the finale begins with a long tutti introducing the movement's main melodies, one after the other. After a cadenza the soloist restates them and then comes a surprise. Sainsbury introduces a tune (at 6 mins 12 secs) clearly derived, as always, from earlier material but not well integrated, I feel, into the surrounding music.
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Format: Audio CD
Probably you've never heard of composer Lionel Sainsbury? I did'nt. He didn't compose many works for orchestra - there's a wonderful violin concerto available on Dutton too - but he's still young and I only can encourage him to compose more. His music is so romantic and beautiful it even sounds like Dvorak has returned! Yes, it's easy on the ear and to understand, but who cares considering there're not so many cello concertos to be played in concert halls if you compare this with piano concertos.
Never heard of John Foulds? Pity on you, serious classical music guys and girls know him. There're some wonderful orchestral and vocal music CD's to be had from Amazon and the like. I really hope you'd buy some of his music. It's tonal and modern when placed in it's properly understanded time line. This cello concerto too deserves to be heard very often. It's as good and great as the Finzi, or the Walton, or any other much played cello concerto. Who said there're no fine `British' cello concertos except Walton do have to look at this pair. Wonderful! And recording, presentation, interpretation etc. are at the normal high Dutton standard! Bravo!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9e75ee10) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e778270) out of 5 stars Vibrant Cello Concertos 29 Aug. 2012
By David A. Wend - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was unfamiliar with the music of Lionel Sainsbury prior to this disc. He is a remarkable composer. His music is melodious and romantic, very much like the neo-classical idiom of William Walton or Samuel Barber. His Cello Concerto was composed in 1999, and this is the world premiere recording.

The concerto begins with a brief somber melody from the cello and orchestra that quickly turns to a fast and rhythmically exciting melody that is developed by soloist and orchestra to a dramatic climax. A brief reflective melody gives way to the return of the vibrant opening subject and carries the first movement to a conclusion, returning to the reflective melody as the concerto continues to the second movement without pause. The movement is marked Adagio with a lament by the cello leading to a song-like melody for the woodwinds that the cello picks up. The somber tone of the music continues in a march-like melody played by the orchestra, answered by the cello with a brooding theme, which is extensively developed and closes the movement. The finale begins with an energetic melody played by the full orchestra. The soloist enters after a long exploration of the theme with a dance-like melody that is developed between cello and the orchestra. The somber theme from the prior movement reappears, elaborated upon by the soloist, leading into a cadenza. The main themes of the movement are recapitulated and the concerto comes to a good-humored conclusion

John Foulds played the cello while a member of the Halle Orchestra. He wrote several pieces for the instrument, including chamber works and three concertos (of which just one survives). The G major concerto was the second he composed during 1908 - 09. Foulds conducted the premiere of the concerto on March 16, 1911 with Carl Fuchs (the Halle principle cello to whom the concerto was dedicated) as soloist. The performance went badly because of inadequate rehearsal time and the concerto was not performed until cellist Raphael Wallfisch (heard on this recording) took it up. This is the world premiere recording of the concerto.

The concerto is a melodious late-Romantic concerto. The soloist enters after a short orchestral introduction-playing pizzicato, strumming the strings of his instrument before playing the first melody. The movement is characterized by lyrical melodies passed between soloist and orchestra with extended solos by the performer. The movement ends abruptly with a short coda. The second movement is an Adagio, which the soloist begins with a beautiful lyric melody. The pizzicato melody from the first movement is introduced followed by a return of the lyric melody, which closes the second movement.

The final movement is a sonata-rondo, cast like one of the great finales from the violin concerti of Brahms and Bruch. The main melody is fanfare-like played by the soloist and picked up by the orchestra. The melody is elaborated by both soloist and the orchestra followed by a more reflective melody. Foulds leaves the cadenza blank so the soloist can improvise, which Mr., Wallfisch does brilliantly. The movement is brought to a brilliant conclusion by the orchestra.

Raphael Wallfisch plays both concerti with great depth of feeling and precision. Martin Yates, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra perform beautifully and are perfect partners for Mr. Wallfisch. These concerti are a must have for anyone interested in British cello concertos.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9eb47b34) out of 5 stars New to me, and good! 8 Sept. 2014
By Linda R. Hodgin - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Heard of this composer while listening to my hubby's classical music station. I am not knowledgeable about classical music, but I do love string instrument music so decided to get this CD. I enjoy this CD and now it has got me interested in seeing what other arrangements for string instruments have been recorded. This is a new direction for me and music, and fun to pursue as I just retired.
HASH(0x9eb47a38) out of 5 stars A superb first release of two magnificent but seldom heard works 15 Feb. 2013
By Louis Look - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The strongly positive Amazon editorial review of these two cello 'concertos on this website is, in my humble opinion, certainly on target. In fact, I would say it's slightly understated. My own impression is that both concertos are quite exceptional in themselves and in their performance quality. From both aspects, it is hard to decide under which composer to file this CD within my rather large collection. [This is not the first time this has happened to me with Raphael Wallfisch, an absolutely stunning, first-rate 'cellist for combining virtually flawless technique with interpretative sensitivity, as witness only one example, his Chandos recording of two other great 'cello concertos on one CD: the Khachaturian and the Kabalevsky 2nd!) Both concertos by the English composers here, according to Dutton Records, have never been recorded before; so this is really a landmark release. For my money, the Foulds 'Cello Concerto adds up to one of his most interesting and appealing works -- especially from the very beginning, which uses deep pizzicato from the soloist to captivating effect. A product of the turn of the 20th century, this composition is an intriguing combination of both "traditional" and "modern" musical elements. If you already like Foulds, I doubt this will disappoint you, and if you are not yet acquainted, it may well snag you. With such an offering in place, and having purchased the Sainsbury Violin Concerto on the same label some time previously -- which I found excellent, enjoyable, but not especially overwhelming (though I'm going to have to give that one at least one more hearing after this) -- I was not expecting to come on such a startling discovery as I did on the same disc with the Foulds. The Sainsbury Cello Concerto is a more "traditional" work in the sense of frank melody and tender feeling, reminiscent of the Vaughan Williams genre with even a hint of Finzi. With that, some listeners might react with an initial "ho-hum" as if to say, "Do we really need another gentle, sentimental English piece after so many others?" My answer to that would be a somewhat surprising "absolutely yes" for myself and a strong suggestion to you to listen to it and decide for yourself -- because, I would assert, it is so subtle in some places, so forceful by contrast in others, so frankly evocative, and altogether so downright beautiful that it deserves to be heard as free of categorization and preconception as possible. Needless to say, it took a certain kind of courage, even for a Brit composer of our time coming so far on the heels of a long-established English Romantic and "neo-Romantic" history (speaking of categories, however imperfectly), to serve up such a piece at the very end of the 20th century. For those much partial to that history's "Vaughan Williams-esque" masterpieces, this will be no problem and even provide much to advocate. For others, if they can resist the sheer loveliness of this Sainsbury concerto, they are welcome of course to whatever turns them on, about which I am likely to join them even in many instances which may still be considered radically unconventional. Having said that, if it were up to me I would not hesitate to place both these concertos, and especially the Sainsbury, in the rank of the finest English works of music for all time. Unfortunately, since it's a very recent release (May, 2012) and an import label as well, this CD still is a bit pricey. However, as most often we find, the comparative pricing on Amazon Marketplace is thoroughly competitive, especially since orangeskymusic is one of the semi-independent vendors on the current "new" list, and (if I can put in a little plug which does not violate some guideline) I have found -- even though it's also in the UK and in this instance its price with shipping is a very few US dollars more than Dutton offers directly -- I can rely on orangeskymusic to get the product to me promptly and packaged protectively for mailing so that the CD doesn't arrive with its plastic case all cracked or smashed. Finally, let me apologize for writing a second fairly wordy review, which I had vowed to avoid, but my enthusiasm got the better of me. I hope you will find it justified.
HASH(0x9ed68504) out of 5 stars Delightful Discoveries 4 Mar. 2014
By AndrewCF - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is delightful disc. It is something of a pleasant surprise that a contemporary composer such as Lionel Sainsbury should be writing very much in the style of Vaughan-Williams and Butterworth. Further, there is also clearly the influence of rock (yes, as in rock and roll), especially in the third movement Allegro. In this movement, both English folk dance and rock successfully mesh, not in an overt manner, but the rhythm takes me back to the British beat of the 1960s. I don’t wish to imply that this concerto is in any way cornball. There is a lovely pastoral Adagio (2nd movement). The fate of 20th Century cello does not rest on the dourest works in the repertoire; it is refreshing to have some works that are lighthearted in nature.

That said, the concerto by Foulds is more of a serious nature, and does not reflect the composer who experimented with quartertones and Asian modes. This is traditionally romantic, a mix of Faure and Elgar with a hint of Brahms. The cello was Foulds ‘main instrument, and even at 20 he was an accomplished composer. Certainly, this captivating work deserves to be heard and performed; it is rather disappointing that such a unique composer has not quite found a niche for himself in the orchestral and concertante repertoire. His works appear on Lyrita, Warner, Dutton, and Chandos. The magnificent requiem deserves a wider audience.

Raphael Wallfisch is one of the best cellists in the world, and all due credit should be given for choosing to record these works. Martin Yates’ conducting is very distinguished and the recording is excellent. If you don’t know Foulds, this CD may be a good place to start.
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