Brahms/Schumann: Concerto for Violin and Cello; Cello Concerto

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms/Schumann
WORKS: Concerto for Violin and Cello; Cello Concerto
PERFORMER: Maria Kliegel (cello), Ilya Kaler (violin), National SO of Ireland/Andrew Constantine
Two versions of the Brahms Double Concerto, one live (1976), the other studio-recorded (1994). The off-the-air Czech Philharmonic performance has the more distinguished soloists, though is marred by some noises off and the occasional blemish. Suk’s sinewy, textured tone matches well with that of cellist Josef Chuchro, and their more intimate exchanges are subtly handled, while Zdenek Kosler’s weighty conducting conveys the sweep and scale of the work.


On Naxos, the timbres of Ilya Kaler and Maria Kliegel are less finely balanced, while Constantine’s performance is inclined to lumber, not helped by some rather dusty tone from the Irish orchestra. Naxos scores more highly with Kliegel’s introverted interpretation of the Schumann Cello Concerto, which makes a good case for a piece often dismissed as substandard. Apart from some out-of-kilter rhythms in the finale, her fluid and sensitive reading is broadly successful.


Back on Praga, meanwhile, the filler is Henryk Szeryng’s full-blooded reading of the Brahms Violin Concerto under the stylistically assured baton of Erich Leinsdorf. The 1971 sound is vivid. George Hall