"CELLO SERENADE" CD NOTES
1. SPANISH SERENADE, OPUS 54#2 is one of six dances for cello and piano written by the well-known Bohemian cellist and composer, David Popper (1843-1912), who taught at the Conservatory in Budapest. Popper taught Schiffer, who taught Starker, who taught me. My first teacher, Peter Howard, introduced this piece to me, and my arrangement is based on a performance of Maurice Gendron. This type of showpiece often appeared in 19c salon concerts, and Popper would always perform several during his programs. This Serenade was one of the first pieces recorded by any cellist, the Belgian cellist Horace Britt.
2. ANDALUCIA, (SUITE ESPANOLA), whose tunes form the basis for the popular song “The Breeze and I,” was written by Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963) in 1928. It has been transcribed and re-arranged many times since, by Richard Hayman, Walter Beel er, Paul Yoder, and Merle Isaac, to name a few.
3. APRES UN REVE (AFTER A DREAM), written by Gabriel Faure in 1865, was transcribed from the original song form by Pablo Casals. The pervading mood is one of melancholy, perhaps because Faure was recovering from a broken relationship at the time. The sense of loss as the dreamer realizes the recent reverie is not real makes this piece especially poignant. My mother was listening to this particular performance recorded on this CD when she quietly passed away in 2003.
4. BIST DU BEI MIR (“IF THOU ART NIGH”), BWV 508, is an aria by Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel often attributed to J.S. Bach because it was found in Anna Magdelena’s Notebook of 1725. It was part of the opera Diomedes Oder die Triumphierende Unschuld, now lost. It was introduced to me by my good friend, Louis Potter, the well-known cellist and pedagogue. My goal was to keep the quiet reverential mood with no improvisation.
5. CHANT DU MENESTREL (SONG OF THE MINSTREL), Opus 71, for cello and orchestra, was written by Alexander Glazunov in 1901, and was very popular in the first half of the 20th century. This intense piece has an elegiac quality, with happier memories recalled in the middle section.
6. PASTORALE IN C MINOR, BWV 590, from J.S. Bach’s “Pastorale in F Major for Organ” is actually the “Air” movement from a four movement form called Pastorale which consists of Prelude, Allemande, Air, and Gigue. Bach wrote this soaring improvisatory in 1710.
7. ARIOSO, from J.S. Bach’s Cantata #156, is familiar to all cellists. Its beloved tune is reassuring and uplifting, with very simple scale-wise motion, and occasional dramatic octave displacements.
8. PRAYER, FROM JEWISH LIFE #1, for cello and orchestra was written by Ernest Bloch and arranged by Hans Kindler. The other two movements of this suite are Supplication and Jewish Song. Bloch, an American citizen born in Geneva, Switzerland, studied violin with Eugen Ysaye. He was director of the Cleveland Institute in 1920, and the San Francisco Conservatory in 1930. This Prayer has a deeply felt intimacy that is alternately murmured or cried.
9. LARGO, from Henry Eccles' SONATA IN G MINOR is a well-known recital piece. I include the first two movements, with my original improvisation on the repeats, as might have been expected when it was first performed. Little is known of Henry Eccles except that he lived from 1670-1742, and played violin in Louis VIV’s “King’s Band.”
10. ALLEGRO CON SPIRITO, SONATA IN G MINOR by Henry Eccles
11. SOSPIRI (SIGHS), Opus 70, by Edward Elgar, was originally written for string orchestra, harp, and organ and first performed by that instrumentation in 1914. This arrangement is by Lucas Drew, and published by St. Francis Publications. Elgar’s initial vision was to call this piece Soupir d’Amour and to pair it with Salut d’Amour, but as World War I approached, Sospiri became bleaker and more heartfelt, and stands by itself.
12. INTERMEZZO, from the opera Goyescas, by Enrique Granados was transcribed from a piano suite with that name written in 1911. It was transcribed for cello and piano by Gaspar Cassado. The characters and settings of Goyescas were suggested by the work of the painter Goya. The extremely dramatic opening and the characteristic Spanish themes of the Intermezzo create intensely Iberian atmospheres. Enrique Granados died as a passenger on the British ship Sussex which was torpedoed in the English Channel.
13. THE SWAN is best known of 14 movements which comprise the musical suite by Camille Saint-Saens entitled Carnival of the Animals. Composed in 1886, in a small Austrian village while Saint-Saens was vacationing, the composer seems to be describing friends and critics in a musical managerie. Whoever inspired the Swan must have been a favorite of Saint-Saens. Le Cygne was the only movement Saint-Saens allowed to be published during his lifetime.
14. KADDISH, the first of Maurice Ravel’s Deux Melodies Hebraiques from 1914 is a liturgical chant, a prayer for the dead, with a melody dating back to the 13th century. I decided to play this piece at the original violin pitch. Ravel came to feel that the violin and piano were two incompatible instruments. I like to think the cello works better.
15. VOCALISE, Opus 34, #14, by Sergei Rachmaninoff, is a tour de force for any soprano to sustain the extended, wordless melody over extremely long phrases. The original song was in C-sharp minor, later arranged in E-minor by Leonard Rose, which lies more successfully for the cello.
16. PRELUDIO, I MASNADIERI is from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of that name written in 1847 and produced for the first time in London, with Jenny Lind, the great Swedish coloratura soprano singing the role of Amalia, the opera’s heroine. The opera is not often heard because of the demanding tenor and soprano roles. The fact that the opera’s hero, Carlo, is a dashing robber who is swindled by his younger brother out of becoming a count, and later murders his beloved Amelia to prevent her from willingly becoming a robber’s wife indicates the excesses that prompted Gilbert and Sullivan to parody this opera in their Pirates of Penzance.
17. GAELIC MELODY, just for fun.
CELLO SERENADE: Known and unknown lyrical masterpieces
1. Spanish Serenade, Op. 54, No.2, 4:07
David Popper (1843-1913)
2. Andalucia, (Suite Espanola), 3:40
Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963)
3. Apres un Reve (After a Dream), 3:14
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
4. Bist Du Bei Mir, BWV 508, 3:33
Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel (1690-1749), J.S.Bach(?)
5. Chant du Menestrel (Song of the Minstrel), 4:12
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936)
6. Pastorale in C Minor, BWV 590, 3:49
7. Arioso, from Cantata #156, 4:23
8. Prayer, From Jewish Life No.1, 4:36
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
9. Largo, from Sonata in G minor, 4:07
Henry Eccles (1670-1742)
10. Allegro con spirito, from Sonata in G minor, 1:43
Henry Eccles (1650-1742)
11. Sospiri (Sighs), Op. 70, 3:58
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
12. Intermezzo, from the opera Goyescas, 5:03
Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
13. The Swan, from Carnival of the Animals, 2:44
Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
14. Kaddish (A Jewish Melody), 4:44
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
15. Vocalise, Op. 34, No.14, 6:26
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
16. Preludio, from the opera I Masnadieri, 4:46
Guiseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
17. Gaelic Melody, 0:50