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 January 2, 2005 | Naxos
What Mozart did for the concerto for piano and orchestra, Boccherini did for the concerto for cello and orchestra, because like Mozart, Boccherini created a genre. For Boccherini, the cello concerto was filled with graceful, lyrical melodies; lightly dancing rhythms; and brightly colored accompaniments. In his series of recordings of the complete cello concertos, Raphael Wallfisch has made the best possible case for Boccherini's achievement. In this third volume, Wallfisch performs what were thought to be Boccherini's three final works in the genre plus a recently discovered work of possibly later vintage. Wallfisch's tone is brilliant, his technique is virtuosic, and his interpretations are infectious. Nicholas Ward and the Northern Chamber Orchestra are relaxed and confident. Naxos' sound is clear, warm, and full. © TiVo
Chamber Music - Released June 3, 2014 | Naxos
This release appears to be a sampler of several albums of British cello-and-piano music recorded between 2005 and 2010 for the British Music Society in presumably a single limited-edition run. Lovers of 20th century chamber music will be glad to have it, for the composers represented are sparsely heard even in Britain; William Busch, who died in 1945 after walking through a snowstorm to return to his young son, does not even appear on Wikipedia. All four of the works, even the Cello Sonata No. 2 of Arnold Cooke, composed in 1980, are in a conservative tonal idiom, but "Romantic" would not be quite the right word. The influence of Shostakovich, who had been proclaimed the greatest composer in the world by William Walton, looms over most of these works, which are heavily contrapuntal. The Partita, Op. 35, of Kenneth Leighton, from 1959, consists of an Elegy, a Scherzo, and a theme and six variations; it could be programmed profitably along with a cello sonata by Shostakovich or Prokofiev. The most purely Brahmsian piece is the Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 66, of the curiously named William Wordsworth, which achieves an epic intensity and does not really feel conservative. Nothing here is of earthshaking importance, but all four pieces have personality and did not deserve the oblivion to which they were consigned by a dictatorial modernism. © TiVo
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