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Klengel • R Schumann: Cello Concertos

Raphaela Gromes (cello), et al; Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Carter (Sony Classical)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Klengel • R Schumann
Klengel: Cello Concerto No. 3 in A minor; R Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129; Myrthen, Op. 25 – Widmung (arr. cello and piano); plus works by Brahms and C Schumann
Raphaela Gromes (cello), Julian Riem (piano); Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Carter
Sony Classical 19075868462   60:42 mins

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The outstanding virtuoso cellist and composer, Julius Klengel, was born three years after Schumann’s death. Even though cello concertos were a rarity in the late 19th century, his Third Cello Concerto was a ‘tempestuous’ success at its premiere in 1892, and its neglect since is surprising. It is characterful, charming, generously expressive with strongly featured melodies. It isn’t quite as daringly, subtly imaginative as the Schumann, but then how many cello concertos are? As Raphaela Gromes displays eloquently, for any cellist keen to get away from the standard classics it’s well worth the trouble of getting to know.

Her Schumann, too, sounds like a labour of love. She has such a warm, generous, golden tone that she could probably get by on just that; but her playing is also strongly, almost vocally expressive, and she really understands the way the three ‘movements’ (they’re more like dream-like states of mind) drift in and out of each other. The only possible reservation – and it’s only slight – is there were times when I felt she could have varied the sound, turned down the full-on beauty a notch or two, especially in the Schumann’s more confidential moments. But this a lovely concert-recital, well worth enjoying in its entirety, and the recording balances her with orchestra and with piano with equal assurance. Perhaps this isn’t quite in the very top recommendation list for the Schumann, but it’s well worth having for the Klengel alone.

Read more reviews of the latest Klengel recordings here

Read more reviews of the latest R Schumann recordings here

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Stephen Johnson