Beethoven, Haydn: Cello Concerto in C, Hob. VIIb:1; Cello Concerto in D, Hob. VIIb:2. Romance No. 1; Romance No. 2 (arr. cello)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Haydn
LABELS: Orfeo
WORKS: Cello Concerto in C, Hob. VIIb:1; Cello Concerto in D, Hob. VIIb:2. Romance No. 1; Romance No. 2 (arr. cello)
PERFORMER: Daniel Müller-Schott (cello); Australian CO/Richard Tognetti
CATALOGUE NO: C 080 031 A
It is ironic that Haydn’s prolix and uncharacteristic D major Cello Concerto should be one of the most recorded, if not the most recorded, of all his works. And still they come. The gifted young German cellist Daniel Müller-Schott draws a warm yet contained tone from his beautiful 1740 Montagnana and has plenty to say about both the D major and the far livelier C major Concerto. Purists may find the Adagios, especially that of the C major, a shade over-romanticised, though Müller-Schott’s phrasing and colouring (including selective use of vibrato) are always imaginative. Fast movements are elegant and vital, with apparently effortless negotiation of the potentially gawky figuration in the first movement of the D major, and an airborne lightness and lilt in the finale – a movement that can too easily seem a lumbering bore.

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The Australian Chamber Orchestra offers well-groomed accompaniments, though without quite the individual character of the COE on Steven Isserlis’s RCA recording or the Norwegian CO for Truls Mørk (Virgin). And pressed to nominate a single version using modern instruments with a sharp awareness of period style, I would still go for Isserlis: for the extra impishness he brings to the finale of the C major, for his more flowing, yet no less expressive, slow movements, and for the alertness and sensitivity of Roger Norrington’s accompaniments.

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Then there’s the question of additional items. Where Isserlis and Norrington throw in Haydn’s late Sinfonia concertante, Müller-Schott gives us his own arrangements of Beethoven’s two violin Romances. However thoughtfully and gracefully played, the cello transpositions inevitably compromise works that trade so largely on the piercing sweetness of the violin’s upper register. Richard Wigmore