Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto in C major, Hob. VII:1 [26:45]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Horn Concerto in E flat major, K447 (arr. for cello by Gaspar Cassadó, transposed to D) [19:55]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Cello Concerto in B flat major, Wq171 [21:37]
Valentin Radutiu (cello)
Munich Chamber Orchestra/Stephan Frucht
rec. January 2015, August-Everding-Saal, Grünwald, Germany

This is my third review of a Haydn cello concerto this year. The first – Daniel Müller-Scott and the Australian CO on Orfeo – has become my standard (review). The second – Pavel Gomziakov and the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Onyx) – was not as good but had a number of virtues, notably the most glorious sounding instrument, a Stradivarius (review). Each of these included both of the Haydn concertos, whereas here Valentin Radutiu gives us the C Major only. Unfortunately, the downward trend in quality continues. It is a rather bland performance, blanketing Haydn’s characteristic wit and élan in slowish tempos and restricted dynamic variations. This applies to both soloist and accompaniment.

It also applies to the other two works, unfortunately. The “Mozart” – I agonised over how to write the header entry for this work – is one of a number of adaptations by Cassadó to increase the concerto options for cellists. I don’t know if there are any other horn works that have been similarly borrowed. The E flat concerto has a jolly hunting theme in the third movement, and I found the cello didn’t really create the same atmosphere; when the horns in the orchestra joined in, it made the “wrongness” even clearer.

The Bach gets the best performance of the three works, but even so, it doesn’t quite have the full range of quirky and zesty rhythms that the best CPE recordings have. My comparison for this particular work is with the highly regarded BIS recording with Hidemi Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan. At times, Radutiu is as good as Suzuki, but too often, what we hear is too “nice”.

Valentin Radutiu was born in Munich, and has studied with luminaries such as Clemens Hagen and Heinrich Schiff. His recording of the Enescu sonatas received a Recording of the Month award on these pages (review). The booklet notes quote a German newspaper praising his “glowing, distinctive and exciting masculine tone”, and he has won a number of competitions and awards. Clearly, he is a performer of calibre. This appears to be his first recording of music from the Classical era, and to me, it seems that in adapting his style from the Romantic era, he has overdone it, creating a soundworld that lacks sufficient character. For an example of how cello concertos of this era should sound, try Jan Vogler’s Concerto Brillanti, also with the Munich CO (review).

David Barker

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