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E Casals • Lalo: Cello Concertos

Jan Vogler (cello); Moritzburg Festival Orchester/Josep Caballé Domenech (Sony Classical)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

E Casals • Lalo
Lalo: Cello Concerto; E Casals: Cello Concerto
Jan Vogler (cello); Moritzburg Festival Orchester/Josep Caballé Domenech
Sony Classical 19658801582   58:26 mins


Enrique Casals’s cello concerto is a delightful find. The younger brother of the great cellist, Pablo, Enrique was a fine violinist and on the evidence of this concerto, an estimable composer. Although it was written in 1946 at his seaside retreat in Sant Salvador, his concerto breathes the air of Barcelona at the end of the 19th century when the city was in the throes of Wagner and Strauss fever; both composers are presences in the work, though not overbearingly so, and there are also a fair few sideways glances at Dvořák’s Cello Concerto of which his brother was a noted champion; there could, of course, be worse models and overall the result makes for very agreeable listening, enhanced by Enrique’s distinctive melodic voice, most evident in the first movement, and the Catalan folk-influenced ‘Tempo di sardana’ finale. Jan Vogler is an eloquent champion providing a performance that is both passionate and reflective. Josep Caballé Domenech and the Moritzburg Festival Orchestra accompany with sensitivity, including some lovely wind playing, if not always complete homogeneity.

Lalo’s Cello Concerto is somewhat undeservedly a poor relation of his celebrated Symphonie espagnole for violin. Notwithstanding debts to Beethoven and Schumann, it is a noble and serious work which goes well beyond the merely flashy, particularly in the emotionally wide-ranging slow movement. Once again, Vogler proves a sterling advocate, delivering the Concerto’s abundant lyricism with clear commitment. Well recorded in a superb acoustic, these fine performances of two richly Romantic works are well worth investigating.


Jan Smaczny