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CD Review

Classical Cello Concertos

  • Franz Joseph Haydn:
  • Concerto for Cello & Orchestra #1 in C Major
  • Concerto for Cello & Orchestra #2 in D Major
  • Josef Mysliveček: Concerto for Cello & Orchestra in C Major
Wendy Warner, cello
Camerata Chicago/Drostan Hall
Cedille Records CDR90000142
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This is just the kind of endeavor that makes Cedille so special. You think you're getting yet another recording of the Haydn concertos – and you are – but then they toss in a work by Mysliveček, and the game changes. Plus, it wasn't an even playing field to begin with; the sound quality, artistic merit, and musical intelligence of this release instantly vault it to the top of its class.

But let's get to the point, and that is that Wendy Warner simply owns these pieces. She plays with an incredible amount of richness and warmth, and she's stunningly captured, too. She treats these pieces like the great works for her instrument that they are, and the result is pretty magical. She's aided in a big way by the Camerata Chicago under Drostan Hall. They play beautifully, accurately, and without any of the thin or ugly sounds we so often hear from small ensembles today. But this is still Warner's show, and there isn't a moment on this disc where you don't find yourself caught up in her artistry and musical excitement. Even the 2nd concerto, which I generally find inferior to the 1st, held my attention and made me appreciate the work anew.

Both Haydn concertos have been marvelously served on disc, and I have several recordings I respect and admire. None sound quite this good sonically. And the Mysliveček concerto is a sizable bonus, a twenty-minute gem that shares a key with the Haydn 1st concerto. It may not move mountains musically, but shares the same virtues as the rest of the disc, and of course Warner makes it sound like a masterpiece. It's always good to delve into works like this, especially when convincingly presented as here. It also makes perfect musical sense and separates the warhorses for the listener. Cedille is one of the only companies in the industry with the guts to do this sort of thing, and it pays off. Entirely worth seeking out and enjoying forever; this may very well set the new standard for excellence in these pieces.

Copyright © 2013, Brian Wigman