Vieuxtemps • Ysaÿe

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COMPOSERS: Vieuxtemps • Ysaÿe
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Vieuxtemps: Cello Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Ysaÿe: Méditation; Sérénade
PERFORMER: Alban Gerhardt (cello); Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Josep Caballé-Domenech


Vieuxtemps’s Cello Concertos come from towards the end of his life, when a series of strokes left him unable to play the violin, and he turned creatively in a variety of other directions. These works were forgotten for years, and have never really entered the repertoire: surprising when Romantic cello concertos aren’t that thick on the ground. The elegance that Vieuxtemps displayed in his violin concertos is on show here, with graceful melodies, and some more showy passages. These are never gratuitous, however, and are expertly written for the instrument, but it has to be said that Alban Gerhardt is more successful in the lyrical passages, and his passagework does not always focus in tone nor intonation.

Most successful in the Concertos are their slow movements: the Andante in the First where a lovely melody contrasts with a more unsettled section; and the Adagio in the Second, where Gerhardt finds an eloquent flexibility in the cadenzas, and drama in the prevalent dotted rhythms. In many ways the shorter works by Ysaÿe suit him best of all, with their late-Romantic sensibility, less reliant on Classical models, and their more inventive orchestration, richly recorded and equally passionately delivered by the Flemish orchestra.


Martin Cotton