A completely delightful program of works for four cellos. The pieces come primarily from the part of the Romantic period when many new “families” of instruments were being introduced – some to have a long life to the present day (such as the saxophone) and others such as the guitarpa to disappear entirely. But this ensemble is not made up of four differently-voiced celli as as some of the guitar quartets; the instruments are all the same except for the primary and subordinate parts they are given in the scores.
Some of these composers were progenitors of what might today be called crossover music. Offenbach, for example, wrote many light salon pieces and humorous operettas, but he also wrote more serious works – and even his Adagio and Scherzo are far from fluff. Fitzenhagen was the one of the elite of Moscow’s resident musicians and helped Tchaikovsky shape and revise his Variations on a Rococo Theme. One of his short pieces heard here was transcribed from its original form for cello and piano.
The four instrumentalists have all had experience playing in a string quartet, and this ensemble is not that different although all four players are cellists. The rich sound of what is many music lover’s favorite stringed instrument is expanded four times for a wonderful timbre and golden sonic blend. Recommended to all cello lovers.
– John Sunier