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Haydn: Cello Concertos; Edison Denissov: Tod ist ein langer Schlaf

Haydn: Cello Concertos; Edison Denissov: Tod ist ein langer Schlaf

Peter Bruns Music Direction

CD: 1
Tracks: 7
Length: 58:17

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hänssler CLASSIC
Rel. 1 Jan 2007
Recorded 2004

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Haydn: Cello Concertos; Edison Denissov: Tod ist ein langer Schlaf Cellist Peter Bruns sure is a happy looking fellow on the front cover of his Hänssler Classics disc Joseph Haydn: Cello Concertos. By right he should be, as this is as fine and persuasive a rendering of these two well-worn and familiar cello concerti, only known to us since about 1960 but so far ingrained into the repertoire by now that it is as if they have belonged to us forever. Thus Bruns has the unenviable task of making these works his own in the face of recordings by Rostropovich, du Pré, Starker, and other past masters who have already been there. However, Peter Bruns isn't quite an ingénue; he is a cellist in the magnificent period orchestra Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin, a group known for interpreting Baroque music with a sense of excitement, verve, and brio, and Bruns successfully transfers this energy to Haydn's two cello concerti with relative ease and fuss. Bruns also leads the Mendelssohn Kammerorchester Leipzig in addition to serving as star soloist, with results that work well—as most soloists who lead their own orchestras in concerti will tell you, no news is good news when it comes leading the ripieno with one's own instrument.

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
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
AMG
CD 1
1 1.Allegro moderato 12:34
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2 2.Adagio 4:31
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3 3.Rondo: Allegro 5:00
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4 Variations on Haydn's Canon 'Tod ist ein langer Schlaf', for cello and orchestra 14:29
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5 1.Moderato 8:46
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6 2.Adagio 6:34
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7 3.Finale: Allegro molto 6:23
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