Gulda meets Shostakovich - Kleinhapl, Piehlmayer
Ars Produktion ARS 38 272
Classical - Orchestral
Gulda: Concerto for Cello & Wind
Shostakovich: Suites arr. for cello & orchestra by Alexander Wagendristel
Friedrich Kleinhapl (concerto)
Wiener Konzert Verein
Rudolf Piehlmayer (conductor)
- Friedrich Gulda: Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra
- Dmitri Shostakovich: Jazz Suite No. 1, Op. 38a
- Dmitri Shostakovich: Love and Hate Suite, Op. 38
- Dmitri Shostakovich: Michurin Suite, Op. 78a
- Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite for Variety Orchestra
- Dmitri Shostakovich: The Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a
- Dmitri Shostakovich: The Limpid Stream Suite, Op. 39a
- Dmitri Shostakovich: The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36a
Review by Adrian Quanjer - December 9, 2018
According to Music and Theatre Agents, Josef Weinberger Ltd: "The invigoratingly outrageous Cello Concerto for cello and wind band (written for Heinrich Schiff) has been performed most widely in recent years, particularly in Scandinavia and Holland". For those unfamiliar with this concerto it is now available for all of us, and what’s more: in high resolution, recorded under the supervision of ARS Produktion and played by Gulda's Austrian compatriot Friedrich Kleinhapl.
Is it outrageous? Certainly. In the 19-eighties many things were, and readily accepted, too: “It was the decade of big hair, big phones, pastel suits, Cabbage Patch Kids, Rubik’s cubes, Yuppies, Air Jordans, shoulder pads and Pac Man. More importantly it was an era of iconic moments that changed the world” (says James Mitchell in ‘The 10 defining moments of the 1980s’). So, when Gulda’s cello concerto was played for the first time by the dedicatee, Andras Schiff, its reception was positive and welcomed by audience and musicians alike (Schiff: "Ich war glücklich und Gulda vielleicht etwas überrascht“- I was happy and Gulda possibly somewhat surprised). Now that the dust has settled I suppose that, in retrospect, some might see it as a bit of crossover gimmick in the spirit of the time: A mixture of jazz, sweet honey, Austrian mountain and village band marching tunes.
For a correct understanding let me add that for those who don’t know the composer, Friedrich Gulda, was an eminently gifted but, as the years went by, also a thoroughly anti-establishment pianist, who would show up for a concert in eccentric clothing or none at all! And so is this cello concerto: some will run away with it and others from it. Looks like a matter of like or loathe, leaving it to today’s listener to decide. Whatever the final choice, one would have to listen to it at least once to know what it is about.
For this recording Kleinhapl is expertly surrounded by members of the 'Wiener Concert Verein' (the original name of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra) founded in 1987 by younger musicians of the 'Wiener Symphoniker'. And not just wind instruments as mentioned in the title (Blasorchester). I’ve also spotted a guitar and a double bass, part of the jazzy elements. With these musicians the quality of the musical support is guaranteed. The soloist does, indeed, need such a supportive underpinning as he faces a very difficult first movement, to be played without vibrato and having to negotiate fast jazzy rhythms plentiful of pitfalls. Kleinhapl does it all. Better still, the third movement is a 5:57 minutes cadenza during which the cello shines with all the acrobatics its master can put on display.
In this recording one is surrounded by the orchestra. I'm admittedly not a great fan of listening in such 'full surround'. Moreover, the soloist is placed so prominently in the middle of the soundstage that I couldn’t quite make out where he was sitting. On the other hand, it does create an immersive ambiance, which, I'm sure, will please a wanting crowd. However, for those who’d like to sit in the audience rather than in the music I recommend that they leave their preferred seat, placing themselves closer to the front speakers. Stereo listeners will miss out on this extrovert ambiance and some might even be glad for it.
And what about meeting Shostakovich as the title suggests? Although being contemporaries, they never did. It’s more spiritual, a matter of similarities, but in an opposing manner: In his liner notes, Kleinhapl sees both characters as 'antipodes' having in common the "mocking challenge to the conservative-serious character of the classical concert attitude" (in the words of Shostakovich). Where Gulda is as clearly outspoken as Shostakovich, the latter taking the establishment not openly, but implicitly by the nose.
For this meet-up Kleinhapl has chosen, in an arrangement from Alexander Wagendristel entitled 'Suites for violoncello and Wind Orchestra', a selection of Shostakovich’s quite listenable and lovingly played dance pieces, taken from his Jazz and Ballet Suites, together with film music from 'The Gadfly'. Here, too, the cello is prominently placed in the middle with the same orchestra around.
Copyright © 2018 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net