J Reicha

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: J Reicha
LABELS: Panton
WORKS: Cello Concerto in D; Cello Concerto in A; Double Concerto in D
PERFORMER: Mikael Ericsson (cello), Jana Vlachová (violin); Czech CO/Ondrej Kukal
CATALOGUE NO: 81 1420-2
Even were he not connected with the young Beethoven, Josef Reicha’s music would be worthy of note. Director of court music in Bonn, his orchestral works were popular in their time and deserve more frequent outings today. Less quirky than his magnificently imaginative nephew, Antonín, Reicha’s treatment of the Classical concerto medium nevertheless rises above the formulaic – witness the delicate end of the first movement of the A major Concerto. No apologies are needed for such a cultivated use of late 18th-century lingua franca, especially in the lyrical, affective slow movements of all three concertos, and the minor-key sections of the finales which quite clearly look forward to Beethoven. The Double Concerto is a modern arrangement, but works well enough. The best of this recorded set is the pleasantly straightforward D major Concerto – though in some ways predictable, it offers a rewarding and questing finale.

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The performances are a little too stolid for this delicate repertoire. Outer movements, after somewhat coarse starts, usually develop a perky quality to match Mikael Ericsson’s delightful solo cello playing. More attention to articulation, particularly at cadential trills, would have done much to reveal the expressive side of this delightful music. Jan Smaczny