Haydn • CPE Bach • Boccherini
Steven Isserlis vc, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
"My face has aged, but I don’t notice it day to day. And it’s the same with interpretation. The difference now is there’s no conductor, I’m directing, so it’s probably more chamber music-y this time." Steven Isserlis
Isserlis revisits haydn and a handful of peers
Haydn’s earlier Cello Concerto in C Major was rediscovered in Prague in 1961. It is a substantial work, in three movements, like its D Major successor. Both concertos were designed for virtuoso soloists, although around 20 years separate the two compositions: the C Major dating from the early 1760s and the D Major from 1783. CPE Bach’s A Major Cello Concerto is earlier still, from 1753. These three concertos form the basis of Steven Isserlis’s programme, filled out on this disc with his own arrangement of an aria from Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera and the Adagio from Boccherini’s G Major Cello Concerto.
Isserlis, always an elegant cellist, recorded the two Haydn concertos previously with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Sir Roger Norrington. That has long been my favourite version, but much has changed in Classical period performance since 1998. The Bremen chamber orchestra displays the punchy attack and sparing use of vibrato that we expect nowadays. Isserlis has hardly modified his own performance style – not that he needed to – but his focus and purity of tone are even more evident in this new recording. He and the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen musicians get the balance of emotion and refined detachment absolutely right in the Largo of the CPE Bach concerto, while the various allegro movements have all the lightness
of touch and warmth they require, particularly the bouncy 6/8 Rondo of Haydn’s D Major Concerto. Phillip Scott