Raphael Wallfisch is one of the leading English cellists of his generation. His repertory is vast, taking in 19th century staples by Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Dvorák, as well as 20th century standards by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Respighi, and Barber. Yet he has also focused much attention on works by British composers, too, from Elgar, Delius, and Bax to Maxwell Davies, MacMillan, Simpson, and Tavener. Wallfisch has recorded extensively for many labels, including Chandos, Nimbus, and Naxos. Wallfisch was born in London on June 15, 1953. His mother was a cellist and his father a pianist. Young Raphael, after studies on the violin and piano, turned to the cello at age eight. His list of teachers is impressive: at home he studied with Amaryllis Fleming (1967-1969) and Derek Simpson (at the Royal Academy of Music from 1970-1973), and abroad with Amadeo Baldovino (Italy; 1969) and Gregor Piatigorsky (the U.S.). It was through his studies with Piatigorsky in California that he was given the opportunity to perform in several private recitals with Jascha Heifetz. Wallfisch won first prize in Florence, Italy, at the Gaspar Cassadò International Cello Competition in 1977. Thereafter, his career grew in several directions: as a soloist he regularly appeared in recitals and with British orchestras; in 1980 he began a 12-year stint playing in a duo with his father, Peter, while serving as a professor of music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He would later teach cello at the Zürich Winterthur Konservatorium and Hochschule in Mainz, Germany. In the 1980s Wallfisch gained an international reputation from his appearances throughout Europe and the U.S. In 1982 he started a long relationship with the English label Chandos: among his earliest recordings were a coupling of the Barber Cello Concerto and the Shostakovich First Cello Concerto (1982) and a disc of Tchaikovsky works that included the original version of the Rococo Variations (1983). Over the next decade or so he would make more than 20 recordings for Chandos. Since the 1990s he has branched out his recording activity to include other labels. Among later recordings is his two-disc set of the complete works for cello by Shostakovich on Nimbus (2006). Shostakovich was also featured, along with J.S. Bach and Tchaikovsky, in his successful concert tours of the U.K. and Germany in the fall of 2006. Further efforts included recordings of Zemlinsky's Cello Sonata (2007) and the cello sonatas of Chopin, Laks, and Szymanowski (2010).
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Classical - Released December 1, 2018 | Lyrita
The reputation of English composer Rebecca Clarke has been on the upswing, with the pianist John York, heard on this album, among various musicians supervising performing editions of her work. Her Viola Sonata of 1919 is one of her best-known works, and despite the fact that Clarke herself was a violist, it may benefit from the recasting here for cello and piano, made by Clarke. The muscular, passionate take on French Impressionism that characterizes this work and the Rhapsody for cello and piano of 1923 is brought out well by the cello in the case of the sonata. Sample the sonata's opening "Impetuoso" movement for an idea. There are lots of other attractions here as well: examples of the later, folk-influenced phase of Clarke's career in the lovely Passacaglia on an Old English Tune and I'll Bid My Heart Be Still, and an unusual example of a contemporary work that directly addresses one of its near predecessors, York's Dialogue with Rebecca Clarke (2007), which weaves motifs from the sonata with original music. Cellist Raphael Wallfisch has the right big, melodic sound for this material, and with fine sound from Lyrita (recorded at an unidentified location), this is a standout among the group of Clarke recordings from the mid-2010s. © TiVo
Classical - Released December 1, 2018 | Lyrita
Proving that there are still forgotten twentieth century English composers deserving of being recognized, Lyrita has released the first recordings of the Cello Concerto and the Piano Concerto of William Busch. A student of Ireland and a friend of Alan Bush, Busch had a deserved dual reputation as a sharp-edged, strong-willed modernist composer and a kind-hearted and retiring man when he died in 1945 at the age of 43, leaving behind a beloved wife, two children, and an impressive but soon-forgotten body of works. This is a shame: the works here are fully worthy of joining the English standard repertoire. Busch's Piano Concerto was premiered in 1937 and dubbed by Vaughan Williams as a "masterly" work, while his Cello Concerto was premiered in 1941 under Adrian Boult, and he, too, was favorably impressed by the composer's craft and inspiration. As played here by pianist Piers Lane and cellist Raphael Wallfisch and accompanied by Vernon Handley leading the Royal Philharmonic, both works live up to these compliments. Lean, muscular music full of powerful ideas and gripping developments expressed with intensity, Busch's music is still resolutely tonal and unfailingly direct. And yet it's also deeply melodic music with expressive themes that will stick in your ear given half a chance. Both the Cello Concerto and the Piano Concerto make virtuoso demands on the soloists as well as the orchestral players, but the writing is never merely showy but rather always straight to the point without a wasted note or gesture. Imagine a more sinewy and less sarcastic Walton or a more refined and less bucolic Vaughan Williams and you'll have some idea what to expect. If you enjoy those composers' works, you'll surely enjoy Busch, as well. Lyrita's digital sound is clean, clear, colorful, and deep. © TiVo
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