The two concertos here are from the Romantic repertoire, but neither is heard on Classic FM or Radio 3 as often as they should be. The Brahms is a fairly late work, composed after the other three concertos and all four symphonies. The Schumann work likewise, composed only 6 years before his death. Both are performed delightfully here. The cellist, Maria Kliegel, is one of Naxos' 'discoveries' who has now found international fame, like Jeno Jando on piano and Marin Alsopp as conductor. The violinst on this CD is Ilya Kaler and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland is conducted by Andrew Constantine. These are a fine performances and a good quality recording on a budget label that would enhance any CD collection.
I'm totally impressed with this fine performance of Johannes Brahms's Double Concerto and Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto; both Maria Kliegel and Ilya Kaler are tremendous as the soloists, with their full-blooded romantic accounts. The National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, conducted by Andrew Constantine, are remarkable in their clarity of line, yet never compromising on lyricism nor warmth. The digital reproduction is both well defined and ideally spaced, even if there's a slight shallowness of tone here. Nevertheless, a superb release from Naxos!
On their own, probably these two concertos are probably not the greatest ever performances of these works. Often the Schumann Concerto is paired with Dvorak and often the Brahms Double is teamed with the Brahms Violin Concerto. However, this pairing is extremely satisfying both intellectually and emotionally- one of the greatest cello concertos and a supreme double concerto. Each of the composers was reaching the end of orchestral writing and had a lifetime of the experience of expression. One of the dominant forces on these recordings is Maria Kliegel on cello. She is capable of passion and tenderness and has a canny way of understanding her instrument. The slow movements are particularly moving and the final movements can be both playful and witty. The violinist Ilya Kaler makes a suitable partner in the Brahms Double Concerto and the soloists play well for each other. I believe an Irish Orchestra played on the recordings although my sleeve notes talk about a New Zealand Orchestra. Andrew Constantine conducts the orchestra well although there are a few moments lacking in definition. However, this is a pairing of concertos to savour.
The two works on offer here make for an enjoyable concert, and allow Maria Kliegel (the "house cellist" for Naxos) to demonstrate her formidable talent. She is ably supported by the other soloists, orchestra and conductor. The performance of the double concerto in particular makes a persuasive case for Brahms to receive as much recognition for his chamber music as his symphonies.
As usual with this label, the modest price belies the first rate performances that will stand comparision with any. The running time of exactly one hour is not quite as generous as with some Naxos CDs, but the feeling at the end is one of satisfaction. Highly recommended.