Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Cello Concerto & Transcriptions / Smith, Chen, Yamada, Houston Symphony

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Inspired by the personality, prodigious technique and musicality of the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cello Concerto is a work of imposing scale and demanding virtuosity, but also with a rare beauty and warmth of expression. This live recording documents the first professional performances of the concerto in more than 80 years, and is paired with playful and virtuosic freely composed transcriptions for cello and piano of Mozart, Rossini and Ravel that Castelnuovo-Tedesco made for Piatigorsky and Heifetz. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s career was interrupted by his move to America in 1939 to escape the Fascist regime in Italy. He worked as a film composer in Hollywood, and as a result his concert works have become neglected, and he is now best remembered as a composer for the guitar. There is something of an ongoing revival however, of which this program is a part. Acclaimed cellist Brinton Averil Smith appeared on the Naxos ‘American Classics’ album of music by Steven Gerber, in which Smith’s performance was widely lauded by critics. His virtuosity and musical ideas rooted in the golden age of string playing make him a favorite of audiences all over the world.



There’s a cinematic feel and scope to the Cello Concerto, primarily during the first movement, with plenty of expressive lines and passages that Brinton Averil Smith projects with aplomb.

The other pieces and arrangements on this CD are a pleasure to hear, most particularly Brinton Averil Smith’s own arrangement of Figaro, from the Barber of Seville, with Evelyn Chen on the piano. Their playing well projects the comical elements of this famous opera aria.

– Classical Music Sentinel

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8573820

  • UPC: 747313382071

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Maurice Ravel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Conductor: Kazuki Yamada

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Houston Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Brinton Smith, Evelyn Chen