Hyperion’s blossoming Romantic Cello Concerto series welcomes back German virtuoso Alban Gerhardt for this sixth volume. Henry Vieuxtemps and Eugène Ysaÿe are of course best known for their blistering pyrotechnics on the violin, but each of this eminent teacher-and-pupil pairing also wrote two works—little known today, alas—for cello and orchestra, and what a revelation they are. The two Vieuxtemps Concertos contain all the elements familiar from their famous violin counterparts—long-arched melodies alongside moments of outrageous virtuoso demands. The Ysaÿe works are shorter and make ideal companions.
Gerhardt rises to the formidable challenges presented by these composers. Sympathetic orchestral support comes from the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (compatriots of the two composers) and Josep Caballé-Domenech, making his Hyperion conducting debut.
The elegance that Vieuxtemps displayed in his violin concertos is on show here, with graceful melodies, and some more showy passages. These are never gratuitous, however, and are expertly written for the instrument...In many ways the shorter works by Ysaÿe suit [Gerhardt] best of all. BBC ****
[the Vieuxtemps works] certainly know their way round the cello and are characterised by strength of ideas, a supple expressiveness and a sure dramatic instrinct. So much so that it is hard to see why they have not entered the mainstream repertoire...these performances...never fail to hold one's attention. Gramophone