Federico Zandomeneghi: The Cellist
After Boccherini and the two works by Haydn there’s a gap in the concerto repertoire for cello. Mozart contributed nothing to the genre and – while he produced five sonatas for the instrument and provided a joint concertante role for the cello in his Triple Concerto – Beethoven (like Mozart) concentrated his compositional skills, with the sole exception of his violin concerto, on producing works for solo piano and orchestra.
This cellistic dry period came to an end in 1850 when Robert Schumann produced his Cello Concerto in a minor (listen below) (a work that waited ten years and until after the death of its composer for public performance). But the real renaissance started in France where the first concerto (also in a) of Camille Saint-Saëns (1872 – listen below) was followed four years later by the d minor concerto (1876) of Édouard Lalo.
Then, at the end of that century, in 1894, comes what is, perhaps, the most famous of all these works, Dvořák’s Concerto in b (listen below). And that work seemed to open the floodgates; it was followed in 1919 by the Elgar and, as the twentieth century really got underway, composers too numerous to catalogue, all tried their hand (with varying degrees of success) at the cello concerto – I’ve appended two of, what are to my mind, the most spectacularly successful examples of twentieth century writing (Shostakovich No. 1, Lutosławski) at the foot of the page.
Here, then, are some of the concertos I’ve mentioned in chronological order:
No scores available for the ‘modern’ works – they’re still in copyright – but if you have very good eyesight you can follow the scores of other performances of the Shostakovich and Lutosławski on YouTube.
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