Christian Poltéra / Tuomas Hannikainen / Malmö Symphony Orchestra

Frank Martin, Arthur Honegger, Othmar Schoeck: Cello Concertos

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Swiss cellist Christian Poltéra has made a specialty of exploring the music of his native country, which is finding its way back into performing repertories after decades of neglect due simply to lack of adherence to the serialist dictatorship. He has devoted an album to each of the three composers heard here, and although all are worth hearing, this beautifully recorded release on BIS may be of more interest to general listeners. Each of the three works might fall generally under the neo-classic rubric, but all three are entirely different in character. The concerto by Frank Martin, written in the 1960s, is brisk and astringent; that by Honegger, in a single movement in three sections, incorporates a variety of 1920s styles, including Gershwin's, into a freely breathing structure; and the work by the little-known Othmar Schoeck, written just after World War II, is full of Romantic tunes. All are highly listenable, but if you're looking for a real newsworthy find here, it's the Honegger concerto, which hits a note of sustained lyricism that entrances from beginning to end. It would be hard to imagine better performances than these by Poltéra and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra under Tuomas Hannikainen; they are focused, graceful, and deeply musical. Several strands of a revival of neglected music of the 20th century converge in this release, which by itself is going to substantially expand the repertory of circulating cello concertos.

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