Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The English Chamber Orchestra
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## 1-3 Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
This, Dvorak s last and finest concerto, was written at the end of 1894 and the beginning of 1895 during his second visit to the United States. As a solo instrument, the cello seems to have made little appeal to him, though he frequently used massed cellos with great and telling effect as, for example, at the beginning of the G major Symphony. His large and varied output contains only four works in which it plays a solo part. Of these, one, Silent Woods, is an adaptation of No. 5 of Op. 68, From Bohemias Woods, originally written for piano duet. It is perhaps significant that his first concerto, written in 1865, was for cello. Gunther Raphael revised and scored this early work (Dvorak left it with a piano accompaniment only) in the late 1920s. Even in the Quintets for strings only, Op. 1, 77 and 97, one cello suffices. When, as in Op. 77, Dvorak wants to strengthen the bass he uses a double bass.
In 1892 Dvorak made a tour of Bohemia and Moravia with the violinist, Lachner, and Wihan, the cellist. It was to the latter, for whom he had already written a Rondo for piano and cello, that Dvorak dedicated Op. 104. Though he consulted with him on matters of technique it is known that he accepted Wihans recommendations with reserve, sticking in the main to his own ideas, even in the cadenzas. And Dvorak s touch is very sure. If the middle and upper registers of the cello are used almost exclusively-though there are some fine descents into the lower regions-it is because here the cello sings most beautifully, and with Dvor&k melody is always the mainspring of his inspiration.
Dvorak is often profuse, sometimes even diffuse, but never wantonly lavish. There may be squandering of melody, repetition, lingering cadences and prolonged dying falls, but, at least in this work, there is an economy of means that is almost classic in its subtlety and restraint. Most particularly is this to be seen in the orchestral texture, for rich sonority and characteristic delineation are achieved by the use of a comparatively small orchestra of double woodwind, three horns (surely most rare-they usually hunt in couples), two trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani and strings. There is a touch, not more, of exotic excitement in the Finale in the shape of a triangle which jingles gaily for twenty-two bars in the early tuttis. Its reign is brief and it never intrudes upon the solo instrument. Brahms' comment that if he had known that it was possible to write a cello concerto like this, he would have written one long before, is a tribute less to its influence on other composers (which has been practically nil) than to its variety, warm appeal and high accomplishment.
The principal themes of the spacious opening movement are clearly stated in a full scale orchestral introduction. The first, sombre yet pointedly rhythmic, is announced on clarinets and bassoons. It blazes into glory on the full band, then out of the ensuing diminuendo arises a lovely horn melody in D major, an instrument it fits as graciously as later it does the cello. The tutti ends with a vigorous codetta. A quiet, magical change from D major to B minor introduces the resolute Improvisando entry of the cello. It develops into a scherzo-like variant of the opening theme and passes, through quiet cadential passages to the lovely D major second subject. From this arises a sprightly episode which culminates in a Grandiose tutti. A long diminuendo prepares for a Molto sostenuto cello entry in the remote key of A flat minor. Here is a drawn out, wonderfully sustained poignant version of the first theme. The pace quickens as the cello breaks into rippling sixteenth-notes, while flutes and oboes maintain the cantabile melody. There follows one of the great moments of this work. An upward rush of cello octaves culminates, not as might be expected in a recapitulation of the first theme, but in the second, now triumphant in the key of B major and in full orchestral dress. Quickly the cello takes over and continues with a subtle touch of variation which seems to caress this warm-hearted melody. Then all moves via orthodox channels to a Grandiose peroration in which the cello, with all the sonority of double stops and vigorous movement, plays an important part. The final coda, in the major key, is brief, vigorous and exultant.
A clarinet announces the first simple melody of the second movement. It is at once repeated on the cello and continues in dialogue with the clarinets, the inner harmony being sustained quietly by soft brass. From this arises an urgent, restless passage, the quiet cadences of which pass abruptly and loudly into a dramatic middle episode. Here are memories of the first of the Malyhrok-Stieler group of songs, Op. 82, which Dvorak wrote in 1887. The strident beginning is succeeded by a beautiful melody on flute and oboe against which the cello provides a poignant, falling counter-theme. The loud opening returns in the key of B major and repetition leads to a recall of G major and a quiet restatement of the first theme on three horns. Out of this grows an elaborate cello cadenza, the flute joining in with gentle roulades, bassoons and clarinets later lending their support. The cadenza sinks into a quiet coda which the flute (a favorite with Dvorak) and clarinet bring to a close with gentle memories of the opening of the middle episode. With this, the sounds of this lovely, sentimentally Slavonic music drift off.
The Finale is a loosely contrived Rondo, a series of episodes held together by the dominating rhythm and melodic precision of a concise, purposeful theme. There is a veritable plethora of ideas, some of them discarded as soon as they have served their purpose. Three are of first importance; the principal Risoluto eight-bar cello theme, a Poco meno mosso broken phrased, extended melody in D major, and a warm limpid theme, Moderate in G major. These all belong, in the first place, to the cello, though, frequently in dialogue, wholly or in part, they pass to the orchestra. Much of the accompaniment is given to the woodwind and Dvorak poises the bright tones of the flutes or the more reedy ones of clarinets and oboes against the cello sostenuto with delicious effect. The score abounds in little woodwind flourishes, little flecks of color thrown up against the melody as though out of sheer happiness.
Nothing becomes this movement more than its ending. It is managed in a way peculiar to Dvorak and the procedure is similar to that which he adopts in the return of the second subject in the recapitulation of the first movement. Here, the G major episode, which might be expected to resolve into the first subject, turns instead to a Molto espressivo solo violin restatement in B major of the G major theme. It marks the beginning of a long repetitive, gradually waning coda. Its length is justified by the marvelous way in which it sums up the change of character which has taken place in the music. From the jaunty beginning, with its passing triangle jingles, through all the varied episodes, it steadily develops in depth and nobility. Great and powerful is this hushed calm. Voiced by the clarinets, a shadow of the first theme of the first movement flits across the scene. There is a rapid crescendo as, loudly and with stately deliberation, trombones reiterate the rondo theme. Then quickly, to an eight bar forthright, vigorous, concluding flourish.
## 4-6 Haydn: Cello Concerto in C (Hoboken VIIb:l)
For almost two centuries, only one authentic cello concerto by Haydn-the D major, Op. 101 ofc. 1783, "arranged" by Francois Gevaert in 1890-was thought to exist, and the authorship even of this work was for a long time attributed to Haydns pupil Anton Kraft. However, the Entwurf-Katalog which Haydn began to compile about 1765 lists two concertos in C of which no other trace could be found. In 1961, a set of 18th Century manuscript parts of this schizophrenic C major concerto was discovered by the Czech musicologist Oldrich Pulkert in the Rodenin Collection of the National Museum in Prague (where it had evidently been lurking anonymously for many years), and its authenticity established by Georg Feder, Director of the Joseph Haydn Institute in Cologne. The work was given its first modern performance on May 19, 1962, in Prague, by Milos Sadio and the Czech Radio Orchestra under Charles Mackerras.
The orchestral parts in the Prague museum are believed to have belonged to Joseph Weigl, a cellist in the Esterhazy orchestra from 1761 (the year in which Haydn took up his appointment as Vice-Kapellmeister) until 1769, and it seems quite possible that Haydn wrote the concerto for him. Although it is not, perhaps, as taxing a work for the cellist as the better known D major concerto, it has a solo part of some difficulty and virtuosity, and considering its early date it shows Haydn unusually in command of the concerto style- which was never his strongest point. The first of its three movements is a measured, self-confident Moderate in a cross between the ritornello form employed by Bach and his contemporaries and the new sonata form which, of course, Haydn himself did much to develop; it will be noticed that the main theme is slightly modified each time it reappears- which may well account for the "double entry" in the Entwiirf-Katahg. In the slow movement, a most eloquent ternary-form Adagio in F, the solo instrument is lightly accompanied by the orchestral strings alone, oboes and horns being silent. Here, as in the first movement, there is a short cadenza, presumably by Haydn himself. The finale, a movement full of splendid vitality and invention, is closer to sonata form than the first movement, and has a well-defined development section of some length followed, unmistakably, by a recapitulation. The minor-key coloring which affects the main theme during the latter part of the introductory orchestral ritornello leaves its mark on the whole movement, notably in the development section.