A landmark premiere recording of a concerto by the other Casals

Jan Vogler: E. Casals, Lalo

The Strad Issue: May 2023

Description: A landmark premiere recording of a concerto by the other Casals

Musicians: Jan Vogler (cello) Moritzburg Festival Orchestra/Josep Caballé Domenchi

Works: E. Casals: Cello Concerto in F major, ‘In romantic serious style’. Lalo: Cello Concerto in D minor

Catalogue number: SONY MUSIC G010004973738G

Jan Vogler produces good heart-on-sleeve playing in the lush and dramatic opening movement of Lalo’s Cello Concerto, with much appassionato where directed, and supple beauty in the generous melodies. There are touches, too, of the heroic figure striding forth in the bravura rhetorical passages; this is good storytelling stuff, well matched by the orchestra, with its punchy brass. There is delight in the second movement, too, with soulful, reflective Andantino sections alternating with the faster folk-dance passages that mingle elfin lightness and high energy, with Vogler scrupulously observing the many accents as the flutes hocket around him. He romps through the high-spirited finale, again with an air of rustic celebration, aided by a biting edge to his bowing.

Enrique Casals, younger brother of Pablo, wrote his Cello Concerto (sub-titled ‘in romantic serious style’) in 1946, by which time it was stylistically out of date by several decades. Vogler captures its broad melodic sweep and easy charm, and negotiates its more technically demanding passages with aplomb. He conveys the sadness of the Adagio doloroso with eloquence and a continuity of narrative which binds it into an expressive whole. The finale is a tempo di sardana, the national dance of Catalonia. There is an intimacy in Vogler’s playing, drawing us to share personal confidences as well as communal dance. The warm recording gives close focus to the cello.