Alban Gerhardt / Andrew Manze / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Britten: Cello Symphony; Cello Sonata; Cello Suites

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AllMusic Review by

Alban Gerhardt's 2013 double-disc on Hyperion consists of the cello masterpieces that Benjamin Britten composed for his friend, Mstislav Rostropovich, and which were his most important instrumental works of the 1960s and early 1970s. The first work to grow out of this famous association was the Sonata in C for cello and piano, which Rostropovich and Britten premiered in 1961, and which was followed not long after by the Cello Symphony, a serious sinfonia concertante rather than a showy concerto, which the cellist and composer recorded in 1965. The three suites for solo cello were composed between 1964 and 1971, and while their technical aspects put them among the most challenging works in the solo repertoire, their profound expressive qualities link them to the great cello suites of Bach. Gerhardt's playing is rich and sonorous, and his performance of the sonata with Steven Osborne is well-matched for tone and execution. The Cello Symphony is a much larger statement, and while Gerhardt is placed front and center in the recording, the huge sound of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under Andrew Manze, somewhat dwarfs his efforts, and the cello's sound seems thin and dry compared to the orchestra's massive accompaniment. However, the recordings of the cello suites are warm and full-bodied, and feature Gerhardt's best playing with a marvelous sense of presence and passion.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Cello Suite No. 1, Op. 72
1 2:29
2 3:41
3 2:34
4 1:20
5 1:57
6 3:05
7 2:11
8 3:49
9 3:26
Cello Suite No. 2, Op. 80
10 3:22
11 4:09
12 1:41
13 4:31
14 6:17
Cello Suite No. 3, Op. 87
15 2:01
16 1:38
17 1:15
18 1:29
19 1:11
20 2:32
21 1:06
22 0:49
23 8:52
24 1:34
blue highlight denotes track pick