The cellist plunges heart and soul into this romantic-flavoured recital with the pianist Pavel Gililov. The pairżs passion helps to glue together the extravagances of Straussżs Cello Sonata . . . DGżs recording lets us feel Maiskyżs every throb and tear . . .
Record Review /
The Times (London) / 28. February 2009
Mischa Maisky and Pavel Gililov wholeheartedly respond, going at the powerful first movement . . . [Dvorák's Sonatina]: Maisky takes it with a light touch . . . [Dvorák's Four Romantic Pieces]: . . . the Rondo . . . is charmingly played. An excellent recording . . .
Record Review /
Gramophone (London) / 01. March 2009
Maisky's performance of these works could hardly be bettered. Strauss's Sonata has enormous youthful élan, and the arrangements of the Romance for cello and orchestra and "Morgen" are exquisite. The expertly made Dvorák arrangements fare equally well in fact, the performance of the Sonatina matches the finest violin readings with a superb sense of engagement and ensemble in the faster movements. Excellently recorded, this recital winds on all counts.
Record Review /
BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. March 2009
Mischa Maisky's warm, romantic tone and controlled vibrato are an excellent match for Strauss, and the pairing is even better in Maisky's own arrangement of "Morgen" -- I don't miss the human voice here at all. Pavel Gililov is definitely a capable partner . . . [Rondo]: Maisky and Gililov make the opening theme sound like a fan dance, with all their pushing and pulling at the tempo. Overall, I like the sounds that Maisky makes on this CD as much as I ever do . . .
Record Review /
Raymond S. Tuttle,
International Record Review (London) / 01. April 2009
Both composers require a Romantic, lyrical delivery, a style of playing that is the absolute domain of Mischa Maisky. Astutely partnered by Pavel Gililov in this warm and clear recording, he carefully reigns in the tempestuous invention of Strauss's first movement, contrasting a light and delicate articulation in the fugato passages with a boldly fervent presentation of the richly sumptuous melodies. This youthful sonata teems with freshness, a quality particularly well evoked in this Allegro con brio, while the intimate and atmospheric Andante has both poise an poetry, its hushed melodies unexpectedly making way for an eyquisitely soaring moment of melancholic intensity. In maximising the characterisation of Strauss's material, these artists produce a winning account of the Finale, which is full of the requisite whimsy. The Romanze unfolds in a similarly expressive manner. Transcriptions have long been part of Maisky's armoury and he perfectly conveys the painfully beautiful nostalgia of "Morgen" in his own arrangement of Strauss's song. Equally, Dvorák's Violin Sonatina transfers to the cello very effectively, and both artists grace the invention with a sure feeling for its Bohemian colouring. The Scherzo is playful and the concluding Allegro ha plenty of bravura. Maisky and Gililov both revel in the unbashed virtuosity of the Rondo, which audaciously oscillates between captivating melodies and cascading sequences, and the pyrotechnics never get in the way of simple charm
Record Review /
The Strad (Harrow, UK) / 01. May 2009
[R. Strauss]: . . . dans cette veine néoromantique, la sonate gagne une belle intensité doublée d'un élan maintenu sans chute de tension.
Record Review /
Diapason (Paris) / 01. April 2009
A Tribute to Hanuš Wihan
Maisky and Gililov play music by Strauss and Dvorák
The history of the violoncello in the 19th century was largely made by performers. Composers were slow to appreciate the instrument's capacity for cantabile, because the early cellists did not exploit it enough. Youngsters were taught to wield the bow while clamping a book between the right upper arm and the body; and the cello was held by the player's legs, so that it did not resonate to its full potential. Gradually it became fashionable to support the body of the instrument with an endpin; but only when Pablo Casals emerged at the close of the century did the bow arm begin to be freed. Even before that, however, a few great virtuosi were expressing themselves through the instrument - with this programme, Mischa Maisky pays tribute to that peppery personality Hanuš Wihan, for whom Richard Strauss and Antonín Dvorák wrote their cello music.
Born in northeast Bohemia on 5 June 1855, Wihan studied with František Hegenbarth at the Prague Conservatory from the age of 13, finishing off with Karl Davďdov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. At 18 he was professor at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and he held the solo cello positions in orchestras including the Bilse Kapelle in Berlin and the court orchestra at Sondershausen, near Weimar, where he was befriended by Franz Liszt. Strauss came to know him during his Munich years (1880-88), when he was soloist in the Bavarian Court Orchestra in which Strauss's father played first horn. Others who appreciated Wihan's playing were Richard Wagner - who hired him for Bayreuth - and Hans von Bülow. Wihan also played in the quartet led by the Munich orchestra's concertmaster Benno Walter and the young Strauss dedicated his String Quartet in A, op. 2, to the ensemble.
Strauss's sister Johanna was friendly with Wihan's wife Dora (née Weis), who hailed from Dresden and was a good pianist. Strauss and Dora fell in love and kept a tendresse for each other to the end of their days. Did their relationship proceed further than domestic music-making? Certainly there was gossip, Wihan was insanely jealous, and the marriage broke up after four years.
Meanwhile, in 1883, Strauss wrote his Cello Sonata in F, op. 6, for Wihan and the dedicatee premiered it in Nuremberg on 8 December with Hildegard von Königsthal. Strauss was himself in Dresden, as guest of the cellist Ferdinand Böckmann, and allowed that worthy to believe that the joint performance they gave on 19 December was the premiere! Understandably this work by a composer still in his teens does not have the cohesion or the individuality of the Violin Sonata of five years later. Its outer movements ramble, though rather beautifully, and apart from the very Straussian opening motif they remind the listener of Mendelssohn. Not the least merit of the passionate interpretation by Mischa Maisky and Pavel Gililov is that they hold these two movements together masterfully. The prayer-like central movement provides more proof that Wihan commanded a superb legato.
Strauss's Romance for cello and orchestra was also composed for Wihan, in the same year (and the same key), but was dedicated to the composer's uncle Anton, Ritter von Knözinger, chief prosecutor in Munich. Originally intended to be op.13, it was premiered by Wihan in Baden-Baden on 15 February 1884 - Strauss made the piano reduction himself - but disappeared from view and was not revived until the 1980s. It is in the typical expansive romance style, with a contrasting central section.
Strauss's beautiful song “Morgen", written on 21 May 1894 to words by Mackay, was one of his four Lieder, op.27, a wedding present to his wife Pauline. He supplied accompaniments for piano alone and for piano with obbligato violin - critics have usually preferred the former but singers and audiences have enthusiastically endorsed the latter. In playing this melodic inspiration on the cello, Maestro Maisky merely underlines its universality.
In 1887 Wihan's teacher Hegenbarth died and he was called to the Prague Conservatory, where from 1888 he was officially cello professor and unofficially chamber music coach. He nurtured the first great modern string quartet ensemble, the Bohemian Quartet; and when its cellist, his pupil Otto Berger, became mortally ill in 1894 he took the cello part himself, touring with the group until 1913. The English violist Lionel Tertis, who worked with the quartet in 1906, was disconcerted by the cellist's habit of spitting on the floor during rehearsals. Antonín Dvorák, who was made of sterner stuff, admired Wihan and in 1890-91 wrote his “Dumky" Trio for the two of them to play with the violinist Ferdinand Lachner. Early in 1892, as a farewell to Bohemia and Moravia before he became director of the National Conservatory in New York, Dvorák took his two friends on tour with the “Dumky". In the last days of 1891 he suddenly realized that the others would need some solos. For Lachner he arranged a Slavonic Dance, while for Wihan he arranged two Slavonic Dances as well as “Silent Woods", from the op. 68 piano duets. He also wrote an entirely new piece in G minor, the jaunty “Rondo for Professor Wihan", op. 94, which has delighted cellists ever since.
Maisky and Gililov play two arrangements from violin originals - to be precise, the Romantic Pieces started life in 1887 as a set for two violins and viola, written as an easier replacement for Dvorák's Terzetto, and the violin-and-piano version followed a week later. During his second year in America Dvořák was reunited with his children and, realizing he was nearing his 100th opus, wrote his exquisite Sonatina in G for his daughter Otilka and son Toník to play. It should have been op. 98 but Dvořák cheated a little. In four movements, the Sonatina is in the composer's “American" style - no different from his Czech mode, with many pentatonic touches. Dvorák jotted down the Larghetto theme on his starched shirt-cuff during a visit to the Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis.
For Wihan Dvořák then wrote his great B minor Cello Concerto of 1894-95. As the world knows, the two men did not agree and Dvořák had to tell his publisher not to accept Wihan's cadenza for the finale. Some Wihanisms did slip through, however, and although a cleaner score has been published in Prague, many cellists (though not Mischa Maisky!) still play a slightly corrupt version. Despite the concerto episode, Wihan took part in the 1896 premiere of the G major Quartet, op.106, and continued to champion Dvořák's music until his death on 1 May 1920. Tully Potter