LABELS: Pearl GEMM
WORKS: The history of the cello on record, volumes 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Various soloists
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 9981-3 (Vol. 1); 9984-6 (Vol. 2) AAD mono
This history of the recorded cello is a treasure trove, not simply for the galaxy of cellists represented, but as a guide to the development of performance style, cello and recording technique. Transferred to CD from the collection of British cellist Keith Harvey, there are performances by 75 cellists – 40 of them born before 1900, so reflecting methods of teaching stretching back to the early 19th century.
The tracks are laid according to the age of the cellist. The earliest recording dates from 1904 – a performance by Aleksandr Valeriyanovich Wierzbilowicz (born in 1850), while Mstislav Rostropovich provides the most recent – a recording made in 1960 of Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo Capriccioso. Unfortunately, the transfer to CD includes much of the surface noise from the original recordings, and some tracks are badly affected. Very little standard repertoire is included on the discs but there is a marvellous assortment of short, unusual and neglected works. High points in Volume 1 are performances by Casals, Suggia, Danil Shafran, Victor Herbert, the flamboyant Ennino Bolognini, and Piatigorsky.
Volume 2 includes Popper’s Spinnlied played by the little-known Alfred Newberry recorded in 1908, together with performances by Lauri Kennedy (Nigel’s grandfather), the great teacher Julius Klengel, Hugo Kreisler (accompanied by his brother Fritz), Fournier, Feuermann, and a classic performance of Saint-Saens’ The Swan from André Navarra, recorded in 1937. Each volume is accompanied by a very well researched and informative booklet. Annette Morreau