A mere five years younger than Richard Strauss, Hans Pfitzner has had a problematic history as Michael Kater has amply suggested in his books on music under the Third Reich. A Romantic conservative, Pfitzner remained firmly associated with the musical trends of his youth (Brahms and Schumann) and given his vacillating anti-Semitism, has remained persona non grata. His only regularly performed work has remained the opera Palestrina, its three Preludes with their scintillating use of age-old modes keeping his name alive within the orchestral repertoire.
The three cello concertos are very attractive in their way but conservative in composition, and in all of them the soloist Alban Gerhardt, Sebastian Weigle and the ever reliable Berlin Radio Symphony are equally responsible for maintaining a perfect balance between the cello and its accompanying orchestral forces.
The opening concerto in A Minor is a student work criticised by his teachers and lost during his lifetime, only receiving its premiere in 1977. Perhaps the best of the works is the often delicate G Major concerto Op. 42 which was written for the virtuoso Cassado with assured writing that never drowns the soloist. There is an earlier CPO recording of these concerti with David Geringas however here both the playing and the recording offered by Hyperion are superior – both sumptuous and passionately committed.