Schumann’s Cello Concerto was long regarded as a minor achievement; it has also been accused of treating the solo instrument unfavourably. As is often the case with the compositions of Schumann’s middle and late periods, interpreters must understand its singularity in order to bring it out. It is thanks to great performers such as the legendary cellist Pablo Casals, for whom Schumann’s Cello Concerto was “one of the finest works one could wish to hear – sublime music from beginning to end”, that this work now at last has its rightful place in the repertoire.
Although relations between Schumann and Liszt were often clouded by Clara’s lack of understanding, and even jealousy, Liszt recognised his friend’s genius better than anyone, and at Weimar conducted scores that had not been understood when they were first performed. We do not know whether or not Liszt knew the Cello Concerto, but he was reliant on transcriptions as a source of income.
Ophélie Gaillard has chosen five pieces for cello and piano: two were originally songs with piano accompaniment written in his youth; the other three pieces, dating from the end of Liszt’s life, show the soberness and bold language that characterise his late works.
Although a Baroque specialist, Gaillard is also very fond of Romantic repertoire. Her recording for Ambroisie of the complete cello works of Schumann, Fauré, and later Chopin were highly acclaimed by the press, while the solo album Dreams (Aparté), made at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, proved to be a great public success.
Ophélie Gaillard plays a cello by Francesco Goffriller (1737), generously loaned to her by CIC, and also an anonymous Flemish violoncello piccolo.