Cellist Ernst Simon Glaser excels in both elegance and groove as he pushes the envelope of contemporary music on his new release. Glaser has brought his powerful Ruggeri cello and invited NNB with its new principal conductor Peter Szilvay to do solo concertos – with electric bass and drums in the backing …
Friedrich Gulda’s wild cello concerto
Gulda was known as a virtuoso pianist and a remarkable performer, famous of course for his collaborations with Chick Corea and a host of Djs. His cello concerto was written in 1980, and in total disregard of the ‘principles of good taste’, Gulda does what he wants to in his music. The ouverture is a rock song, the finale resembles a virtuosic Sousa march (with a little touch of jazz in the middle) – a superb ending to a virtuosic and highly enjoyable work.
The title track on the release ‘Zvezdochka in Orbit’ is commisioned by Ernst Simon Glaser, and premiered by him in 2009 with NNB/Szilvay. The title refers to the last of the dogs that the Soviet Union sent into orbit, only a few weeks before Gagarin became the first man in space. In the beginning the floating cello voice sounds foreign and lamenting, always in glissando, like the moaning of a little dog out in space. Or, if you like, as a troubled human conscience that feels infinitely small in the universe, struggling to gain more knowledge.
Norwegian phantom and French silver screen
Thommessen’s ‘The Phantom of Light’ is a miniature concerto for cello and two woodwind quintets where the composer allows the soloist to explore the whole cello register – developing into a hunt for a light that can never quite be captured. Ibert’s concerto from 1925 reminds us of his skill at portraying character perhaps due to his experience as an accompanist of the silent films. In fact Ibert also wrote some 40 film scores. In this concerto Ibert exploits the textural differences between soloist and orchestra in full, sometimes giving the cello more of an accompanying role to the woodwinds.