Schumann, Volkmann, Gernsheim, Dietrich

COMPOSERS: Dietrich,Gernsheim,Schumann,Volkmann
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: The Romantic Cello Concerto 2
WORKS: Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129; Volkmann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 33;Gernsheim: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 78; Dietrich: Cello Concerto in G minor, Op. 32
PERFORMER: Alban Gerhardt (cello); Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu
Coupling Schumann’s masterpiece with three relatively unknown cello concertos may seem to only confirm its superiority as a piece of music. Yet, as in his previous instalment to this series, Gerhardt’s programme is illuminating for resuscitating works that have fallen by the wayside as well as highlighting Schumann’s influence on certain strands of 19thcentury German music.


Not surprisingly this influence is most perceptible in the G minor Concerto by his pupil Albert Dietrich. The slow movement of the E minor Concerto from Friedrich Gernsheim reminds one a little of Max Bruch. Yet despite their idiomatic cello writing, a wonderfully clear recording and the persuasive playing of Gerhardt, neither of these works really stay in the memory. Robert Volkmann’s enchanting A minor Concerto is another matter. Gerhardt invests Volkmann’s mixture of melodic lyricism, wit and technical bravado with a brilliant sense of pacing and the urgent accompaniment of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu easily outclasses the rival account on CPO. In the Schumann, Gerhardt’s relatively straightforward account of the first movement seems like a breath of fresh air in comparison with the self-conscious indulgences of Mischa Maisky (DG) and Christophe Coin (Harmonia Mundi), and his fleet-of-foot bowing in the Finale comes close to rivalling the brilliance of Heinrich Schiff (Philips). Perhaps Gerhardt misses some of poetic intensity of Pieter Wispelwey’s account (Channel Classics), which remains my benchmark for this particular work. But anyone investing in this disc will not be disappointed. Erik Levi