HAYDN: Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major; Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major; PEREIRA: Concertino in G Major for Cello and String Orchestra – Antonio Meneses, cello/Northern Sinfonia – Avie AV2176, 70:36 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
Brazilian cello virtuoso Antonio Meneses (b. 1957) picks up his instrument–a 1730 Alessandro Gagliano–and the baton for three ingratiating works, two by Haydn, the other by Clovis Pereira (b. 1932), a Brazilian composer who studied with Cesar Guerra-Peixe and Joyce Mekeel. The relatively “recently” discovered–c. 1962–C Major Haydn Concerto (c. 1761-1765) may well provide the big draw for this inscription, given its plastic melodies and often brilliant filigree, all of which provide natural outlets for Meneses’ expansive style. For the first two movements, Meneses plays cadenzas by Wolfgang Boettcher. Even in the midst of wide leaps and descents into the cello’s lower registers, Meneses maintains a light, flexible hand. The aerial Adagio sings without effort, a sweet arioso of serenity and dignity. The whiplash Allegro molto moves with that brisk elan that raises the cilia in the ears and hairs on the back of the neck. Meneses’ cello sings, saws, and glides, often in quick succession, a visceral delight even for those well familiar with this concerto’s deft sensibilities.
The twenty-minute Pereira Concertino exploits–in modestly baroque terms–native Brazilian materials: the first movement, Allegro con moto, uses modal scales found in the Mata Zone of north-eastern Brazil, especially in the sound of local fiddle players. The angular quality, dark colors, and galloping rhythms occasionally remind one of Frank Martin, despite his own Swiss personality. The cello has two cadenzas–the second slightly longer than the first– before it blends once more in a thick texture with the lower register of the supporting strings. The Adagio movement pays melodic homage to the north-eastern “cowboys” of Brazil who sing to calm their herds. The Rondo Allegro takes its timbre from the guitar players who favor the galope. A playful cadenza leads to a “frevo,” a vibrant music style associated with the State of Pernambuco, obviously a happy place.
The familiar D Major Haydn Concerto (1783) enjoys a relaxed plastic realization, the cadenza by Emmanuel Feuermann as revised by Meneses. The occasional ascents into the cello’s flute tone make the instrument sing with special ardor. The second movement cadenza, by both Pablo Casals and Antonio Janigro, bespeaks a world of cello pedagogy. The last movement particularly ingratiates by virtue of its hunting motifs and the gently rocking virtues of Meneses’ facile figure work, which makes this graceful music eminently appealing. Great sound (rec. 29-30 September and 1 October 2009) from The Sage, Gateshead, England.