Schumann: Cello Concertos

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann,Volkman
LABELS: Orfeo
WORKS: Cello Concertos; plus Strauss: Romanze in F; Bruch: Kol Nidrei
PERFORMER: Daniel Müller-Schott (cello); NDR Symphony Orchestra/ Christoph Eschenbach
CATALOGUE NO: C 781 091 A

Advertisement

The main selling-point of this disc is a really fine performance of Volkmann’s Cello Concerto, a virtuoso showpiece in the grand manner, condensed into a fluid single movement form.

Like Schumann’s, Volkmann’s Concerto is in A minor and is highly appealing if more four-square. Daniel Müller-Schott is a characterful advocate of the work, finding the fun in it and sharing this with Christoph Eschenbach and the orchestra in much delightful interplay.

It’s fiendishly difficult but Schott jumps through all its hoops with effortless panache.

The work appears here in its restored, original version after being bastardised in editions by Becker and Mainardi. 

This disc boasts another rarity, Strauss’s Romanze for cello and orchestra, Op. 33, written when the composer was 19 though only published in 1987.

The scoring is inimitable, and Schott enjoys its vocal lines and capricious middle section. His performance of Bruch’s Kol nidrei has an impressive nobility. Less satisfying is the reading of Schumann’s ardent Concerto. 

No doubt one’s expectations of this great, original work are higher, but I couldn’t ignore the slightly nasal, hectic quality of his sound on the A string, which seems more prominent here than in the Volkmann, and his way of bulging on sustained notes borders on a mannerism.

For a performance that sings utterly spontaneously, I’d turn to Isserlis’s recording (RCA).

Still, there’s no doubting his ability to manipulate the long lines to aching effect in the slow movement, or his understanding of the work’s soulful, but subtle, expressivity.

Advertisement

The finale trips lightly and crisply, where others indulge in heroics, an approach Eschenbach and the NDR Symphony echo with admirable sensitivity. Helen Wallace