Sir Donald Tovey: Cello Concerto, Air for strings, Elegiac Variations

(9 customer reviews)

Catalogue No: TOCC0038
EAN/UPC: 5060113440389
Release Date: 2006-04-06
Composer: Sir Donald Tovey
Artists: Alice Neary, George Vass, Gretel Dowdeswell, Ulster Orchestra

Donald Tovey (1875–1940) has long been known as one of the finest writers on music in English – but he saw himself primarily as a composer. His Cello Concerto – written for his friend Pablo Casals in 1932-33 – may be the longest in history; indeed, as he worked on the score he wrote to a friend that the first movement would be a 'record-breaker’ and 'much the juiciest’ music he had yet produced. The work sits mid-way between Brahms and Elgar, but has a lyrical and dignified voice that is uniquely Tovey’s. The contrasting tone of the dark, heroic Elegiac Variations was inspired by the death of Robert Hausmann, cellist of the Joachim Quartet and a cherished chamber-music partner of Tovey’s. And the charming Air for strings reveals his delight in a well-turned Classical theme.

Alice Neary, cello
Ulster Orchestra, orchestra
George Vass, conductor
Gretel Dowdeswell, piano

Listen To This Recording:

    Cello Concerto, Op. 40 (1932t33)

  1. I. Allegro Moderato
  2. II. Andante Maestoso
  3. III. Intermezzo: Andante innocente, con moto quasi allegretto
  4. IV. Rondo: Allegro giocoso
  5. Air (Andante cantabile) for strings (1933) [arr. Peter Shore]
  6. Elegiac Variations, Op. 25, for cello and piano (1909)

9 reviews for Sir Donald Tovey: Cello Concerto, Air for strings, Elegiac Variations

  1. :

    ‘Alice Neary plays this demanding work with immense skill and dedication, and she is impressively supported by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by George Vass. The disc also includes a charming Air from an early quartet and recently arranged for orchestral strings by Peter Shore and the Elegiac Variations for cello and piano (Gretel Dowdeswell) which Tovey wrote in 1909 in memory of the cellist of the Joachim Quartet. A revelatory issue.’

    —Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph

  2. :

    ‘Tovey (1875-1940) was, of course, highly respected as a writer on music, and remains so, and although he saw himself primarily as a composer, posterity has deemed otherwise. Make no mistake, the Cello Concerto is a fascinating work that one wants to get to know better – and this recording now allows that to happen – and the Air is a jewel of a piece.’

    —Colin Anderson, Classical Source

  3. :

    ‘Harnessing the musical power of the modern orchestra and a fine young virtuoso, the UK label Toccata has done an immeasurable service to English music.’

    —Lawrence Vittes, Audiophile Audition

  4. :

    ‘Back in 1975 and the days of open-reel recording I taped off the air a centenary performance of Tovey’s Cello Concerto. Thirty years later, long after tape and tape-recorder were history, I could still effortlessly recall to mind the Concerto’s glorious opening theme, as memorable as that of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, and not dissimilar in mood. The commercial recording at last of this wonderful work alone amply justifies Toccata’s existence – thank you and bring on lots more!’

    —David J. Brown

  5. :

    ‘All credit to Martin Anderson’s Toccata Classics for originality in spinning together this varied and tonally lyrical Soviet song anthology. Varied it may be but it has a golden thread in the form of Robert Burns and his poetry.…If you enjoy songs by Britten, Poulenc or Finzi you will find reward in these.’

    —Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

  6. :

    ‘If you’ve enjoyed grappling with Tovey’s large-scale Symphony in D, it’s worth persevering. Alice Neary performs valiantly, with sympathetic … support from George Vass and the Ulster Orchestra. Throw in the engaging fill-ups, decent sound and assiduously detailed bookletnotes, and it adds up to yet another intriguing release from this young label.’

    Gramophone Magazine

  7. :

    ‘…this concerto is a five-star chef’s recipe of gorgeous, if somewhat derivative music, magnificently played by Alice…’

    —Jerry Dubins, Fanfare Magazine

  8. :

    ‘I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the music[…] [of Tovey] conducted with great sympathy by George Vass: the vast Cello Concerto, written for Casal, is quite a find, […]. The language is richly romantic and Tovey’s skill as an orchestrator considerable.’

    Gramophone May 2007

  9. :

    ‘it’s a magnificent score [Cello Concerto], one that engages and engrosses the listener in a rich and vibrant orchestral dialog, which, for all its length, never seems to ramble or sprawl. […]

    The whole concerto is really beautiful, but the slow movement, marked Andante maestoso (I’d have marked it Adagio lamentoso) is extra special; it’s one of those pieces of music capable of melting hearts of stone. […]

    Tovey’s cello concerto is thus a natural for [Alice Neary], and I have to say that her playing of it, even without another version to compare it to, is simply masterful. The richness and depth of tone she produces on her 1720 Gagliano cello are breathtaking, and it’s hard to imagine anyone bringing out the beauties of this score with more rapt feeling than Neary does. The Ulster Orchestra, too, plays magnificently. […] it’s hard to believe that such a stunning gem in the cello repertoire has been neglected for so long. This is Want List material. […]

    Put this on your own Want List and acquire it immediately.’

    —Jerry Dubins, Fanfare Magazine, July/August 2013

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