Wen-Sinn Yang

Carl Davidoff: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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Carl Davidoff: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 Review

by Uncle Dave Lewis

All five of nineteenth century Russian-Latvian cellist and composer Carl Davidov's cello concerti are important and valuable concert works for the cello, and you'd never know that to the extent they have been recorded. The Concerto No. 2 in A minor has fared the best at four recordings, whereas Concerto No. 1 in B minor enjoys its second recording in this fine CPO performance by Wen-Sinn Yang and the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra under Terje Mikkelsen. The other three remain to be heard on disc, but this recording of the first two fits the bill and is a superb outing for a cellist who was already being praised as "the clear successor to Rostropovich" while Rostropovich still lived. CPO's Carl Davidoff: Cello Concertos 1& 2 is filled out with a familiar cello warhorse, Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33, which makes perfect sense; although Davidov did not premiere it, he was the dedicatee of Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien. Tchaikovsky's Variations, and his concerto writing as a whole, bears a strong similarity to Davidov's approach to concerti in terms of thematic development and the use of certain kinds of transitional devices. That is one reason the neglect of these works is so unfathomable; they hit the highpoints of high romantic style, are melodious and serious, and give the cellist plenty of virtuosic stuff to show off with. Yang certainly does the job; his playing is fleet, yet fluid, and his dedication to this music shows.

This really should be your first choice for these two Davidov concerti; with any luck, Wen-Sinn Yang will be permitted to bring us the other three. Nevertheless, CPO's Carl Davidoff: Cello Concertos 1& 2 is an excellent disc that should be sought out with urgency by devotees of the cello.

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