After lying dormant for 80-odd years, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cello Concerto of 1935 is enjoying a second life, with three recordings emerging since it was rediscovered last year. Raphael Wallfisch released one in 2017 on CPO, while Brinton Averil Smith (who rediscovered the work) released his interpretation on Naxos in June.
Between those, Italian Silvia Chiesa recorded this disc of rarities with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra and Massimiliano Caldi, presenting the rediscovery alongside concertos by his contemporary Gian Francesco Malipiero, and Gian Francesco’s nephew Riccardo Malipiero.
Fireworks abound in Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s concerto, which Chiesa attacks with bristling energy. It’s easy to hear parallels with Korngold (both composers ended up in Hollywood). The second movement has a bright, film-romance lilt, while the finale – kicking off with a virtuosic cadenza – offers a dramatic but ultimately optimistic climax. Chiesa sacrifices perfection for drama, however, and Wallfisch offers more polish (if less raw intensity), but for my tastes it’s Smith who best balances excitement and precision.
Chiesa brings similar ferocity to the two Malipieros. Gian Francesco’s Concerto is harmonically restless, even anxious in the outer movements, but the Lento is gently lyrical, while the younger Malipiero’s 1957 Concerto is darkly atonal and thrillingly performed.
Composer: Malipiero, Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Composition: Cello concertos
Performer: Silvia Chiesa vc, RAI SO/Caldi