COMPOSERS: Bach,Caix d’Hervelois,Handel,Rheinberger,Saint-Saens
WORKS: Works by Bach, Rheinberger, Handel, Caix d’Hervelois, Saint-Saëns,
PERFORMER: Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Herbert Tachezi (organ, harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 9031-77308-2 DDD
Only Saint-Saëns’s Prière was actually written for the combination of cello and organ. All the other pieces are the work of arrangers, including the Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassadó and the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, along with several lesser-known names. Rheinberger’s Three Pieces are arrangements by the composer himself of music written for violin and organ, while the Caix d’Hervelois has been adapted for the cello from viola da gamba, or bass viol.
The arrangements are clearly intended to spotlight the expressive capabilities of the cellist. Rostropovich responds with characteristic warmth and beauty of tone, and Herbert Tachezi is relegated to a discreet supporting role. The spirit of Albinoni’s romanticised Adagio hovers unmistakably over the Baroque works, several of them dubiously adapted from music for keyboard or organ solo. The three chorale preludes were not actually written by Bach, and the Handel aria is attributed only.
The Caix d’Hervelois, rather quaintly titled Portraits of Ladies in Ancient France, and accompanied on the harpsichord, is pleasant but unremarkable, and neither the Saint-Saëns nor the Rheinberger are pieces anyone is likely to want to hear too often. Despite the quality of the playing, this succession of slow, fulsome pieces makes pretty wearisome listening if taken in anything other than small doses. There are countless more satisfying examples of Rostropovich’s art available elsewhere. David Michaels