Sonata for Violin and Pianoforte in A Minor, WoO 2 - II. Intermezzo.
  • Sonata for Violin and Pianoforte in A Minor, WoO 2 - II. Intermezzo.
  • Steven Isserlis (cello); Dénes Várjon (piano)
  • Schumann: Music for Cello and Piano

Attached file is the cello transcription of the F-A-E Intermezzo from Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 3; I’d previously posted my thoughts on the original version for the violin. Steven Isserlis, who is as spirited a defender of late Schumann as anyone out there, transcribed it himself and plays it. Dénes Várjon, who accompanied Carolin Widmann’s violin in my previous post, accompanies Isserlis here, as well. A nice touch. Now I can’t imagine those supple, inaugural triplets played by anyone else.

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I still prefer the original violin version, but through Isserlis’ Stradivarius, the musical line gains a lonelier lexicon. Schumann in his deepest melancholy makes me think of Roland Barthes, and tonight is no exception. As the notes sound their mourning alphabets through Isserlis’ cello, F-A-E, my thoughts turn to Barthes’ brief reflection on palm trees, alphabets and Heine: Frei aber einsam. From Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (tr. Richard Howard) -

According to the Greeks, trees are alphabets. Of all the tree letters, the palm is the loveliest. And of writing, profuse and distinct as the burst of its fronds, it possesses the major effect: falling back.

A hemlock tree stands lonely. 

Far north on a barren height.

He drowses; ice and snowflakes 

wrap him in sheets of white

He dreams about a palm tree

That far in an eastern land

Languishes lonely and silent

Upon the parching sand.


(Image by Qiu)
Sérénade, Op. 98
  • Sérénade, Op. 98
  • Steven Isserlis;Pascal Devoyon
  • Fauré - Complete Cello Works

Sérénade, Op. 98 - Gabriel Fauré

Cello: Steven Isserlis
Piano: Pascal Devoynon

Another one of Fauré’s short sweet pieces. Written for Pablo Casals in 1908, it hasn’t found the same fame as the Sicilienne or Papillon, and definitely should be played more often! 

Click here to see the sheet music for Sérénade 

Bach: Cello Suite #1 In G, BWV 1007 - Praeludium
  • Bach: Cello Suite #1 In G, BWV 1007 - Praeludium
  • Steven Isserlis
  • Bach: Cello Suites

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in the sitting room listening to a vinyl of Tortellini Tortelier play Bach’s Cello Suites. We’re all here together, like a real family, drinking tea.

The Cello Suites really are genius. I think that to achieve something like that, so timeless … I mean, it really is God-given, isn’t it? Bach was really devout and there’s no way one can listen to them and not hear that he’s making the most of his gifts.

I made sunday lunch: Delia Smith’s pork chops and sage and apples. I was nonplussed (with my cooking—not the recipe), but the others (my adoring family) said that it was good.

I wasn’t sure what to write and realised that I’ve not posted any music for a while and, well, what better way to include you in my activities than to let you listen to what I’m listening to? Enjoy.

  • Fauré: Cello Sonata #2 In G Minor, Op. 117 - 1. Allegro
  • Steven Isserlis, Thomas Adès
  • Lieux Retrouvés

Fauré çağdaşları Debussy & Ravel'in arkasında hep sonradan hatırlanan ezik bir arkadaş olacakmış ama son anda vokal & viyolonsel için yazdıklarıyla parlayabilmiş biri. Parlamış derken diğer eserleri daha az iyi demek istemiyorum, sadece fazla bilinmiyor. Buraya koymak için hazırda beklettiğim sağlıklı bir insanda olması gerekenden çok daha fazla Fauré eseri var. İlk olarak en sevdiğimle başlamak istedim, 2 numaralı viyolonsel sonatının ilk bölümü. Çok iyi eleştiriler almış bir albümden, viyolonselde her daim tercih edeceğim Steven Isserlis, piyanoda da üstün besteci Thomas Ades var; daha mükemmel bir ikiliyi rüyalarınızda göremezsiniz. Aslında buraya Ades eserleri de koymak istiyorum ama buna hazır mısınız emin değilim.

Neyse, Ades piyanistinin yorumundan bahsedecektim. Biliyorsunuz bu empresyonistlerin besteleri Fransız köy yemeklerine benzer. Her şeyi tencereye atıp saatlerce pişirerek bütün malzemeleri birbirine karıştırırlar, bütün unsurlar bulanıktır. Piyano çalanlar bilirler, teknik olarak ne kadar zor olsa da empresyonistlerin parçalarını çalmak kolaydır. Arkadan yankı pedalını cömertçe serpiştirirseniz kimse yanlışlarınızı farketmez. Annelerimizin kir götürür dediği cinsten şeyler yani. İşte yeni dönem piyanistler, ki Ades arkadaşımız buna dahil, bu geleneği reddederek son derece temiz, crisp çalıyorlar artık piyano paritsyonlarını. Bana kalırsa çok da güzel oluyor, besteyi daha iyi anlamanıza & takdir etmenize yardımcı oluyor. Ama tabii zevkler & renkler, siz ne düşünürsünüz bilemem. 

  • Pau Casals' Song of the Birds
  • Steven Isserlis
  • Bach: The Cello Suites

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.

Pau Casals


Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Largo con sordini, mesto from Cello Concerto in A major

Papillon, Op. 77
  • Papillon, Op. 77
  • Steven Isserlis;Pascal Devoyon
  • Fauré-Complete Cello Works

Papillon, Op. 77 - Gabriel Fauré

Cello: Steven Isserlis 
Piano: Pascal Devoynon

Butterfly or dungfly, call it what you like”, Fauré wrote to his publisher, Hamelle, acceding at last to that worthy request to title a small piece for cello and piano, composed in 1884, Papillon. Impressed by the popularity - and sales - of Fauré’s Élégie, Hamelle had prodded the composer to produce a frankly virtuoso piece for cello. The upshot was slight, in terms both of duration and inspiration. In under three minutes, four rapid sections and a codetta flash by - animated arpeggios for the cello leading into an expansive melody before the cello’s brilliant opening returns, rippled by recollections of the central section, ascending suddenly to the tonic at the end. Startling, airy, and not without charm, Papillon is over before one grasps that the engaging shimmer is a mirage of no substance. The composer’s stubborn resistance regarding the title delayed publication until 1898. It immediately became, and has remained, one of Fauré’s most often played pieces.  


Maurice Ravel: “Kaddisch” from Deux mélodies hébraïques


(via BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016)

“Choosing the nominations for this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards was, as usual, a difficult process, our specially selected jury of critics agonising over which incredible recordings to add to the shortlist. But we got there… so here are the nominated recordings, each one a gem in its own right and a lifetime of enjoyment for its listeners. Our 21 nominations were chosen from a longlist of more than 200 recordings, each of which had been awarded five stars by our critics in their reviews.

On this page you can listen to clips from all of the nominations, choose your favourites and then cast your votes.

Everyone who votes will be able to enter a prize draw to win one of two copies of each of the 21 nominations. The winners will be announced in the May issue of BBC Music Magazine. Voting closes 19 February.”

The Tallis Scholars - “Taverner. Missa Corona spinea” (Gimell Records)

Steven Isserlis - “Prokofiev. Shostakovich. Cello Concertos” (Hyperion)

Rachel Podger - “Vivaldi. L’Estro Armonico” (Channel Classics)

Werner Güra - “Beethoven. Lieder & Bagatellen” (harmonia mundi)