Composed almost 50 years apart, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor (1895) and Schumann’s Cello Concerto (1850) are closely linked in the pantheon of Romantic concerto literature. Cellists of many generations have long looked at both of these pieces as essential components in their artistic development, and each has been recorded many times over by the titans of the instrument to showcase their technical mastery.
At age 26 international soloist Carmine Miranda bases his interpretations of these masterworks from several years of historic research and performance experience, which have led him to discover new secrets to be found in the scores of the Navona Records release SCHUMANN | DVOŘÁK: CONCERTI FOR CELLO & ORCHESTRA. Miranda, whose playing has been described as “remarkable” (Gramophone), “a fiery presence” (Limelight) and “spectacular” (Sonograma Magazine), seeks to balance concepts of classical traditions, multinational folklore, and technical prowess combined with a state-of-the-art high-definition audio engineering in order to create the most realistic sound and reliable version of these works.
Composed in a period of two weeks and lasting over a two year revision by the composer, Schumann’s Cello Concerto is considered to be one of his most enigmatic works due to its structure. Originally titled “Concertpiece,” it differs from other instances of its genre, with its fully connected structure from beginning to end and by including more fragmented passages.
Miranda’s take is decidedly diverse from other contemporary interpretations, and deliberately follows historical traditions in terms of tempi, dynamics, and phrasing. In the soloist’s reading, Schumann’s “variations on a theme” musical intentions are interpreted as a series of internal conflicts and conversations between the solo cello and the orchestra. In his recent article “Decoding the Schumann Cello Concerto” (The Musical Times Journal of Music), Miranda makes a compelling case that Schumann’s work is brimming with embedded codes and underlying meanings, which, when taken together, point to a very different vision than the norm.
Dvořák’s explosive concerto in many ways marks the coalescence and arrival of the cello concerto, which matured at the end of the nineteenth century, with other cello concertos coming from Camille Saint-Saens, Édouard Lalo, Edgar Elgar, and many others. Here too Miranda seeks to ramp up the emotionally-charged content, creating new and striking contrasts that have not been heard in any other recorded interpretations. Harmonies splash like dollops of brightly colored paint on a white canvas, and Miranda’s elegant playing transforms this already demanding concerto into a virtuosic piece of the highest order.
Both works were recorded over two days in June 2015 in the Czech Republic with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Petr Vronský. (Naxos)