Haydn: Cello Concertos; Edison Denissov: Tod ist ein langer Schlaf
Peter Bruns Music Direction
In what might strike some as an insanely bold move in terms of programming, Haydn's restrained and elegant cello concerto are bridged by a performance of contemporary Russian composer Edison Denisov's late masterwork Tod ist ein langer Schlaf (Death is a long sleep). This is a difficult, but very deep and moving work based on a Haydn chorale setting that evokes a period in Russia where the Soviet old guard was in decline, and its leaders were dying off in rapid succession. The performance is quite good, but combining this with Haydn's two concerti Bruns creates a product that will satisfy only a slim margin of his potential audience—some listeners will obtain it for the Denisov alone, whereas Haydn fanciers will probably never listen to more of the middle track than a couple of minutes' worth. When Bruns writes in his notes that Tod ist ein langer Schlaf is "as yet never recorded," he probably wasn't aware that it did appear on a short-lived, but excellent BMG Classics disc by the Moscow Virtuosi under Vladimir Spivakov from 1996 entitled Stalin Cocktail. Someone in Hänssler's copy editing department was asleep at the switch, as Denisov's birth and death dates are given as "1829-1996"—his death must've been a long sleep indeed!
In general, Hänssler Classics' Joseph Haydn: Cello Concertos is a very well done debut by a promising young artist, and the recording, made by Deutschland Radio, is splendid. To pull Denisov's 80-proof vodka into the middle of Haydn's serving of champagne may prove dispiriting to some, but this does reflect current trends in concert programming in Europe—perhaps someday we will get used to it.
© Uncle Dave Lewis , All Music Guide
|4||Variations on Haydn's Canon 'Tod ist ein langer Schlaf', for cello and orchestra||14:29||$2.49|
|7||3.Finale: Allegro molto||6:23||$0.99|