Romantic cello works yield delights in the hands of a passionate advocate

Raphaela Gromes: Romantic Cello Concertos

Raphaela Gromes: Romantic Cello Concertos

    The Strad Issue: December 2020

Musicians: Raphaela Gromes (cello) Julian Riem (piano)1 Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Carter

Works: Klengel: Cello Concerto no.3 in A minor op.31. Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor op.129; Widmung from Myrthen. Strauss: Romanze in F major for cello and orchestra . C. Schumann: Romanze from Piano Concerto in A minor. Brahms arr. Piatti: Hungarian Dance no.5


Catalogue number: SONY CLASSICAL 19075868462

German cellist Raphaela Gromes’s fifth album with Sony since she was signed in 2017 reflects her interest in unearthing neglected 19th-century cello works, although putting Schumann’s Concerto on the same disc as Julius Klengel’s just shows up the latter’s banality.


Klengel, better known for his studies and his Hymn for 12 Cellos, used the cello as virtuosically as he knew how in his Third Concerto (1892), with octaves abounding, and rather too much sequential thumb position passagework. Gromes makes light of its technical challenges, and her sweet, singing tone in the highest range lends Romantic expression to its sentimental lines.

Schumann’s Concerto is a totally different matter, with countless moments of subtle rubato and portamenti in the solo line. The link to the slow movement is especially transporting in Gromes’s hands, and the duet that follows with the Berlin Radio Symphony’s principal cellist is pure delight. The high notes on her 1855 Vuillaume cello sparkle with wit in the finale and the recorded sound is top-quality throughout. However, less cautious tempos here and in the passagework in the first movement and more tonal shading would have made this interpretation even more satisfying.

Gromes’s duo partner Julian Riem joins her for some delightful 19th-century miniatures, with the slow movement of Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto a particularly welcome addition.