Cello Concertos Nos 4 & 6; Rondo Capriccioso
London Mozart Players/Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
CPO 555 356-2 72:31 mins
Bernhard Romberg (1767-1841), the child prodigy and widely-travelled cello virtuoso who wrote the book – quite literally, his Méthode de Violoncelle – on innovative 19th-century cello technique, was also a prolific and much-respected composer. His ten cello concertos are in continuous pedagogical use at music colleges, not least as they cover almost any technical permutation across which a budding virtuoso might come.
Here Raphael Wallfisch and the London Mozart Players perform the fourth and sixth concertos, alongside the Rondo Capricciosofor Cello and String Quartet, Wallfisch playing on the richly-toned ‘Ex-Romberg’ Montagnana cello of 1733. Romberg’s concertos are easy on the ear, caught on the cusp between Classicism and Romanticism, and very much constructed to highlight the cello and its star capabilities. Wallfisch brings every nuance to the Fourth, its pensive, mournful opening and lyrical, somewhat repetitive Rondo bookending a reticent, sweet-toned Andante.
The Sixth, the concerto militaire, has a certain restrained pomp and military cheeriness in its opening Allegro, ‘sung-through’ and rarely giving the soloist a break. The trauer-march type Lento sings under Wallfisch, a convincing champion of Romberg’s skill, but there is a lingering sense that the piece itself could do something more. The orchestra’s role undertaken by the London Mozart Players, in fine balance here as in the Rondo Capriccioso, is very much accompanist.
Sarah Urwin Jones