This invaluable survey of that most Romantic of instruments includes both the classic concertos of the era, by Dvořák and Saint-Saëns, as well as a generous selection of encores and showpieces, performed by a variety of cellists from this and earlier generations. Including Zara Nelsova, in whose classic interpretation of the Dvořák one may readily hear the admiration evinced by the composer's friend Brahms who, on hearing the work, remarked that he would have composed a concerto for the instrument himself had he realised the possibilities inherent in a combination that may present certain problems of balance, pitting the mellow voice of the solo instrument against a full orchestra, but that yet may be overcome through a sensitive songfulness that came beautifully and naturally to Dvořák. Brahms, of course, can be considered to have made good his omission with the late flowering of the Double Concerto. His expansive E minor Sonata is here, alongside the deft turns of Mendelssohn's first sonata (in a performance by Luca Fiorentini on a rare Strad cello), as well as more lyrical sonatas by Chopin and Rachmaninoff, treasured by cellists for their juicy melodies and the opportunity to engage with the idioms of composers who largely wrote for the piano. The last disc opens with perhaps the most famous of all cello encores, The Swan, from Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals, which seems perfectly to capture the potential both for melancholy and for imitation of the human voice which places the cello alone among the string family.
The most beautiful cello music of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schumann Chopin, Saint-Saëns, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff and many more.