In March 2006 I recorded the second Volume of Romantic Celloconcertos with the Radiosinfonieorchester Berlin under the direction of Hannu Lintu in the Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin (the same venue where Karajan recorded many of his records) – concerti by Schumann, Dietrich, Gernsheim and Volkmann.
Why would I record pieces I have never heard of. Why not Schumann with Rococo, Dvorak and Elgar? These are concertos I play over and over, I know backwards and I interpretÂ differently to other performers. Why not? Because I wouldn’t buy this disc myself – have already too many like that. Because I find it more interesting to enlarge the cello repertoire than to jump around the same (beautiful) handful of pieces. To learn completely new pieces for just one performance which is forgotten as soon as it has been played, is almost not worth the effort. For a cd it’s different – you can show to an audience of several thousand listeners, that there are other worthy pieces, and you can play them over and over again.
For me the platform of cd’s is the best way to re-discover an almost forgotten repertoire, a risk many concert organizers are not willing to take. If they hire a cellist, they want the Dvorak to sell tickets. Hyperion though has its faithful core listeners who buy these entire series (Romantic Violin and Piano Concertos) which allows the label to break even, since some sell amazingly well, others might fail. The Romantic Cello Concertos Vol.I sold already beyond expectations about 8000 copies, even though the repertoire was more or less unkown (Dohnanyi, d’Albert, Enescu). All these pieces were suggested by me, since I loved Enescu as composer, and had played and adored the two other works.
September 2006 I played for the first time with the RSB, and at least from my side I felt very close to this group of musicians. I asked their director, Maria GrÃ¤tzel, if they might be interested in recording cd’s together for Hyperion, and in fact they even had a period in March 07 in which they needed to record something, but hadn’t decided what and with whom. The producer from Deutschlandradio Stefan Lang suggested the Gernsheim Concerto (never heard of the composer before), gave me the score, and I liked it. Reminded me of the Schumann with it’s three movements joining each other. Schumann? Why not. With what? I thought of Volkmann, since it is also “composed through”, and a minor like the Schumann. And it was the piece everybody played before the Schumann Concerto came along? Rightfully so? Yes, Schumann is better, but Volkmann is very interesting, effective and quite beautiful.
But these three works together didn’t give us more than 45 minutes of music. I remembered this gentleman from Oldenburg who had told me how much he had loved the Albert Dietrich Concerto. Dietrich was a friend of Brahms and – Schumann, and the three of them wrote a sonata for their friend Joseph Joachim, of which only the Brahms movement (Frei Aber Einsam) survived. Stefan Lang retrieved the score from Oldenburg and it looked absolutely beautiful and lush.
Four different composers on one disc? No way, said Mike Spring from Hyperion. Because then the stores don’t know under which composer they should sort the cd and put it instead under miscellaneous. Nobody will buy it. Under miscellaneous? Never, I replied. Yes, it’s 4 different composers, but everybody knows Schumann, nobodoy knows the others, so obviously this cd will be put in the Schumann category. Well, that’s how this project developped. I had about 3 weeks to learn and memorize these three for me new concertos (while playing other stuff), and I must admit, the final result is rather good (just received the second edit).
It won’t be released until March 07, right in time for my concerts with Berlin Phil with Thielemann – the Schumann Concerto 🙂