This release marks the beginning of a new series from CPO. Cello Concertos from Exile features works by Jewish composers forced to flee Nazi Germany. This first release includes works by Fanz Rezeinstein and Berthold Goldschmidt, who both found refuge in the UK.

It’s a deeply personal project for cellist Raphael Wallfisch. As he explains in the liner notes, his parents (both musicians) survived the Holocaust and were friends with several of the composers in this series.

Franz Reizenstein was a student of Paul Hindemith and Ralph Vaughan Williams. To my ears, his 1951 Cello Concerto in G strongly resembles Hindemith. In the slow movement, though, I can hear echoes of late Vaughan Williams. It’s a work full of drama, and also plenty of technical challenges for the soloist.

Berthold Goldschmidt’s 1953 Cello Concerto is also technically challenging. Like Reizenstein, Goldschmidt rejected atonality. Still, his music comes closer to the border than Reizenstein’s.

This concerto has a complex, polyphonic texture with dissonances that grind against each other before resolving. The chromatic motion further obscures the tonal center (without completely erasing it).

Raphael Wallfisch is emotionally invested in this project and these works. And that comes through in his performances. He brings his considerable talent to bear on these concertos, playing with passion and elan. And in the process, he makes the case for these works to enter the repertoire.

Berthold Goldschmidt, Franz Reizenstein: Cello Concertos
Cello Concertos from Exile, Vol. 1
Raphael Wallfisch, cello
Konzerthausorchester Berlin; Nicholas Milton, conductor
CPO 555109-2