As city after city, state after state, country after country, has begun to implement restrictions on public gatherings due to public safety concerns amidst the COVID-19 crisis, performances, when not canceled outright, have moved en masse to livestreaming platforms.
In 1784, a famous quartet of composers gathered for an evening of music making among friends. Consisting of Joseph Haydn on 1st violin, Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf on 2nd violin, Wolfgang Mozart on viola and Jan Vanhal (1739-1813) on cello, they played each other’s string quartets that night. While Vanhal was renowned as a violinist, he must also have been proficient on that instrument as well. The virtuosic solo writing he supplies for these 3 cello concertos offers convincing proof.
MOÓR Concerto in for 2 Cellos and Orchestra, op. 69. Cello Concerto in c?, op. 64. Prelude in E for Cello and Orchestra, op. 123 • Péter Szabó, 1Ildikó Szabó (vc); Zsolt Hamar, cond; Miskolc SO • HUNGAROTON 32728 (63:22)
This is truly amazing! As recently as 37:5, I found myself reviewing what I thought was a most improbable work, a full-scale Romantic concerto for two cellos, by Emanuel Moór (1865–1931). I even began that review with an expression of disbelief—“Who’d have thunk it!” I exclaimed—at such a seemingly impractical idea. Much as a novelty as it might be, Moór’s Double Cello Concerto turned out to be an arrestingly beautiful work. Indeed, everything I’ve ever heard by this relatively obscure Jewish Hungarian composer—which, admittedly, is not a lot—has absolutely convinced me that here lays buried treasure just waiting to be dug up.