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TO 0038
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TO 0038

Tovey: Cello Concerto/ Air for Strings/Elegiac Variations

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2008

Originally recorded in 2008

Artists:

Ulster Orchestra


George Vass


Alice Neary

cello

Gretel Dowdeswell

piano

Venue:

Ulster Hall, Belfast


Champs Hill, Sussex



Producer:

Michael Ponder


Peter R. Shore

(Associate)

Martin Anderson

(Executive)

Engineer:

John Benton

(Concerto, Air)

Record Label
Toccata

Genre:

Chamber


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 66:42
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DONALD FRANCIS TOVEY

(1875-1940)
   
 

Cello Concerto, Op. 40

54:16  
1 Allegro moderato 25:28
2 Andante maestoso 11:57
3 Intermezzo: Andante innocente, con moto quasi allegretto 2:38
4 Rondo: Allegro giocoso 14:13
 Alice Neary cello
5 

Air (Andante cantabile) for strings

2:15
  (arr. Peter Shore)  
 George Vass
6 

Elegiac Variations, Op. 25

10:11
  for cello and piano  
 Alice Neary cello
 Gretel Dowdeswell piano


Donald Tovey (1875–1940) has long been known as one of the finest writers on music in English – but he saw himself primarily as a composer. His Cello Concerto – written for his friend Pablo Casals in 1932–33 – may be the longest in history; indeed, as he worked on the score he wrote to a friend that the first movement would be a ‘record-breaker’ and ‘much the juiciest’ music he had yet produced. The work sits mid-way between Brahms and Elgar, but has a lyrical and dignified voice that is uniquely Tovey’s. The contrasting tone of the dark, heroic Elegiac Variations was inspired by the death of Robert Hausmann, cellist of the Joachim Quartet and a cherished chamber-music partner of Tovey’s. And the charming Air for strings reveals his delight in a well-turned Classical theme.
 

"... Neary is highly regarded for her performances in both mainstream repertoire and works by British Romantic and contemporary composers. Tovey’s cello concerto is thus a natural for her, and i have to say that her playing of it, even without another version to compare it to, is simply masterful. The richness and depth of tone she produces on her 1720 Gagliano cello are breathtaking, and its hard to imagine anyone bringing out the beauties of this score with more rapt feeling than Neary does. The Ulster Orchestra, too plays magnificently... This is Want List material..."

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare - July/August 2013


‘Toccata Classics, the record company arm of Toccata Press, furthers the aim of exploring the byways of classical music. And as a label it has turned up some real treats: encountering Donald Tovey as composer rather than as the author of a series of splendid analytical essays on music has been a real ear-opener.’

James Jolly

Gramophone - March 2010

‘...arcane and fascinating recordings. […] I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the music behind the writing on those two Tovey releases conducted with great sympathy by George Vass: the vast Cello Concerto (4/07), written for Casals, is quite a find …  The language is richly romantic and Tovey’s skill as an orchestrator considerable.’

James Jolly

Gramophone - June 2007

‘It is good to have Toccata Classics available in North America at last… […] The mammoth Cello Concerto by Donald Francis Tovey, running nearly an hour, shows the author of the invaluable "Essay in Musical Analysis" to have been a composer of great originality and substance worth exploring further. All of these CDs [TOCC0042, TOCC0023, TOCC0038] are lovely surprises, and they create confident expectations for more of the same.’

Richard Freed

Soundstage - June 2007

‘Alice Neary’s magnificent performance proves the worth of the music. She is thrillingly full-blooded in her sound and noble in her utterance, an inspiring lesson to all cellists who wish to understand the extraordinary emotional power of which the cello is capable, even when speaking in such an arch conservative voice. In harnessing the musical power of the modern orchestra and a fine young virtuoso, the Swedish label Toccata has done an immeasurable service to English music. […]  The sound is outstanding, with tremendous space, size and impact.’

Laurence Vittes

Audiophile Audition - 10 April 2007

‘Plans for a modern recording fell through a decade or so ago; now Toccata Classics have at last delivered the goods. […] Alice Neary performs valiantly… it adds up to yet another intriguing release from this young label.’

Andrew Achenbach

Gramophone - April 2007

‘...this elegant, lyrical work has found the perfect champion 70 years later in the gifted young British cellist Alice Neary, who strikes just the right balance between Brahms and Elgar’

Anthony Holden
 

The Observer - 4 February 2007

‘An archaic pre-war recording of [Casals] in the work survives, but the piece needs a fine modern recording, and this is it. Alice Neary copes with the difficult solo part very well indeed and Vass accompanies excellently. […] Any lover of British music of this period, and any self-respecting or aspiring cellist, will have to have this CD.I am very glad to have the opportunity of studying this music in such a good performance and in such trouble-free sound. I recommend this disc strongly.’

Robert Matthew-Walker

International Record Review - February 2007

                   RECORDING OF THE MONTH
‘Alice Neary makes every note tell in both cello works and each is played as if it urgently mattered – which it does. […] The Tovey Cello Concerto needs to be heard by all enthusiasts of the late-romantic orchestral world. […] It is fresh, keenly imagined, emotionally engaging and the performance, recording, documentation and presentation adroitly complement this major work.’

Rob Barnett

MusicWeb - January 2007

‘...the performance here is eloquent and beautifully shaped – really lovely. The recorded sound involving the orchestra is first-class, the balance between cello and orchestra expertly judged. […] Make no mistake, the Cello Concerto is a fascinating work that one wants to get to know better – and this recording now allows that to happen – and the Air is a jewel of a piece.’

Colin Anderson

Classical Source

 ‘Alice Neary’s magnificent performance proves the worth of the music. She is thrillingly full-blooded in her sound and noble in her utterance […]. Toccata has done an immeasurable service to English music. The sound is outstanding, with tremendous space, size and impact.’, 

Laurence Vittes

Audiophile Audition

                           CD SPOTLIGHT
‘Alice Neary and the Ulster Orchestra under George Vass are satisfyingly masterful…. enchanting’

Robert Anderson
 

Music & Vision Daily - 8 June 2010

"Donald Tovey (1875–1940) will always be remembered as one of the UK’s finest writers on music, though in his day he was also admired both as composer and pianist. He was a favourite accompanist of Pablo Casals, who gave the premiere of his Elegiac Variations in 1909, and for whom Tovey also wrote his Cello Concerto in 1933. The Concerto’s notorious length – nearly an hour – proves its undoing. The central sections have great lyrical and emotional strength, but Tovey’s carefully wrought, Brahmsian idiom often sits uneasily with his quest for structural expansiveness, and the outer movements are worryingly diffuse. The Variations, self-consciously peering back through Brahms to Schubert, occasionally sound derivative, but are also infinitely more satisfying in their compressed austerity.
            Alice Neary is the intense, persuasive cellist in both works, though neither she nor her excitable conductor George Vass can disguise the Concerto’s flaws. Gretel Dowdeswell is the weighty, impressive pianist in the Variations."

 


The Guardian

The Guardian

‘Its serene opening theme for the cello is a memorable inspiration […]. Alice Neary plays this demanding work with immense skill and dedication, and she is impressively supported by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by George Vass. A revelatory issue.’

Michael Kennedy
 

The Sunday Telegraph - 18 February 2007



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