January: Cello and Symphony

I recently attended a concert with this exact theme, and had to ask myself if perhaps it was part of the reason I had the idea for what we’ll be doing for the next five weeks or so. I’m not going to be grouping it into an official series; it’s just a smattering of works from five composers in chronological order, but it will hit some high points I’m excited to get around to.

We did the violin thing this past August, and I truly enjoyed it, more than I expected to, and want to get back around to doing another series like that, because it was wonderful. Unfortunately, I have still never done a cello concerto or a sonata. The only cello work we’ve had so far are a few of Bach’s solo suites, and we haven’t even finished those yet. Unfortunately again, I won’t be touching cello sonatas this time around, but I am eager to do so at some point. In any case, this month (and into next), we’ll be addressing a cello concerto (in most cases) and symphony from the same composer, as well as one or two of their chamber works on the weekends. So, for example, for two of our installments, we’re touching on a symphony, cello concerto, and two chamber works of two separate composers. Two of the composers out of the five are making their first appearances on the blog, and one hasn’t shown up in about a year.

I am literally just letting it sink in that I haven’t ever written about a cello concerto in the more than three years and hundreds of posts I’ve written. Well, phew. That is about to change. To be fair, it’s only been in that last series in August that I’d had any more than a couple of violin concertos (Mendelssohn and Sibelius), so there’s obviously a lot of catching up to do.

Also, we’re going to get back around to some more common pieces, familiar stuff in the repertoire, things you’re far more likely to hear in the concert hall or on YouTube or even on a radio broadcast sometime than anything we’ve discussed in the past few months. That’s good and bad. It’s good because it means I’m getting around to stuff people are more familiar with, and that I should be more familiar with. Here I am listening through symphonies of Vagn Holmboe and Per Nørgård trying to pick out good works of theirs for the series (and don’t get me wrong; I loved it) and am still not really familiar with one of the most common cello concertos in the repertoire. So there’s that.

But it’s maybe not so positive because… what do I have to bring to this discussion of these works that the decades of professionals haven’t already offered? An opinion, sure, and you know what they say about those… in any case, here we are getting back around to some more famous music, some of it among the most famous music there is, but for sure setting aside the ‘undiscovered repertoire’ torch for a bit and getting around to some more regular stuff.

Some of the pieces in this little stretch of works are also pieces I’ve been waiting for quite some time to present, so the cello + symphony series was constructed around a few pivotal works, and the others filled in quite nicely. That’s all for now. Except that the first post of the month (and the year) is already up, so you know who’s being featured first. Happy reading.

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