Giuseppe Verdi · Carl Maria von Weber · Richard Strauss
Gioacchino Rossini · Johann Strauß Jr. · Daniel F.E. Auber
Ramon Jaffé, cello
Jena Philharmonic Orchestra · Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Hardly any other instrument is as similar to the human voice as the violon-cello. Countless composers have written concert pieces, romances, and arias for cello, giving it the role of the singer whose task is to captivate the audience with irresistible cantilenas and virtuoso outbursts. This collec-tion of Romantic concert pieces also places the greatest demands on the cel-list’s virtuosity. Ramon Jaffé, born in Riga, Latvia, studied with David Geringas and Boris Pergamenshikov. He has already performed with orchestras like the DSO Berlin, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Munich RSO. In addition to intensive activities as a chamber musician and teaching duties at the C.M. v. Weber Academy of Music in Leipzig, Ramon Jaffé is highly involved with the art of Flamenco and has appeared at major Flamenco festivals in Spain and France.
Jena Philharmonic Orchestra
Thueringen’s largest symphony orchestra
was founded in 1934. Since German reunification, the ensemble has performed throughout Germany and in many European countries, building up a national and international
The orchestra annually presents three different
concert series in Jena. Its programs range from classic to crossover and include special, chamber and family concerts as well as concerts for schoolchildren.
In addition to guest appearances in Denmark,
Hungary, Switzerland and the Nether-lands, the orchestra regularly performs in major concert halls like the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Cologne Philharmonic and the Berlin Konzerthaus.
With three associated choirs, the entire choral-symphonic repertoire plays a major role in the Jena Philharmonic’s concerts. Together with the Deutsche Musikrat, the orchestra promotes the next generation of conductors by holding seminars under the direction of renowned conductors.
The Jena Philharmonic’s innovative impulses have attracted great attention with its thematic concert series and inclusion of various music genres such as jazz or folklore. It has won the annual competition for Germany’s
best concert program, presented by the German Association of Music Publishers, three times.
Nicholas Milton was appointed GMD of the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra with the beginning
of the 2004/2005 season.
Daniel Raiskin is one of the most versatile
musicians of his generation. Before embarking on a career as conductor he has established himself as one of Europe’s leading viola players.
Born in 1970 in St. Petersburg, Daniel Raiskin first studied viola at the conservatory there, continuing in Amsterdam and Freiburg. He studied conducting with Lev Savich and Mariss Jansons in St. Petersburg as well as in countless
master classes with such conductors as Neeme Järvi, Jorma Panula and Milan Horvat.
His international career has taken him to Europe’s most important concert
halls, including the Berliner Philharmonic, Berlin Konzerthaus, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vienna Musikverein, St. Petersburg Philharmonic,
Cologne Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic,
Victoria Hall Geneva, Sala Verdi del Conservatorio Milan, Mozarteum Salzburg and New York’s Lincoln Center.
Daniel Raiskin has appeared frequently with leading orchestras. These include the Vienna Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic,
Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Berlin Symphony, Beethovenhalle Orchestra Bonn, Lille State Orchestra, Staatskapelle Weimar, State Philharmonic Rheinland-Pfalz, Netherlands
Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio Symphony
Orchestra, RTÉ State Symphony of Ireland, Athens State Symphony, Porto State Orchestra, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, London
Chamber Orchestra, North German Philharmonic,
Tampere Philharmonic, the Israel Sinfonietta, Zagreb Philharmonic, Estonian State Symphony and many others.
Daniel Raiskin first led the Mozarteum Orchestra from the conductor’s podium of the Salzburg Festspielhaus in October 2004. In October 2005 he conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on a tour through Germany and the Netherlands.
Since 2003, Daniel Raiskin has been Permanent
Guest Conductor with the Wroclaw State Philharmonic (Witold Lutoslawski), with which he undertook a major tour through Poland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland
in February 2006.
Since August 2005, Daniel Raiskin has been the Chief Conductor of the State Orchestra Rheinische Philharmonie in Koblenz.
The Cello’s Opera Voice
The Cello Was Created to Sing.
The outstanding Russian music critic Ale-xander Serov linked the “true nature” of the cello with the “knightly tenderness of the male voice”. The great Russian bass Fyodor Shaliapin maintained the same opinion of the instrument – “You have to sing like the cello”. According to contemporaries, Shaliapin “tuned” his voice by listening attentively to the cello in the orchestra.
The 20th century was the true “golden age” of the cello. From the very start of the 19th century a vast solo repertoire began to emerge. Old masterpieces were rediscovered
and revived for concert performance, including, for example, Vivaldi’s cello concerti and Bach’s cello suites. The heyday of solo performing also turned its eyes to ensemble works: in addition to traditional trios, quartets, quintets and so on, a great deal of music for “non-standard” ensembles was composed, where the cello sometimes appeared in the most unexpected “contact” with various instruments
in the orchestra. These “relations” left their mark on the cello too, its palette gaining
in intensity and richness of expression.
And we can consider the music of the 19th century with even greater interest. In opera and symphony scores the cello solo or a cello ensemble often takes centre stage, as Tchai-kovsky eloquently expressed “for a time standing
out from the other citizens of the republic of instruments”. One classic example suffices. Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell overture opens with the slow, rising phrase of a cello solo supported by a cello quartet. Berlioz accorded Rossini’s last opera laudatory praise; the concentrated prologue
to the overture paints, as he said, “the majestic silence of nature”.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) went yet further:
he opens the opera I masnadieri, based on the eponymous play by Schiller (“Die Räuber“),
with… an aria. Straight after the introductory
accords of the tutti – they appear again several times at the close of the Prelude – the cello sings a melancholy “song without words”, in repetition of one of the main character’s
arias – Massimiliano’s (Serov’s aforementioned
quotation of the “knightly tenderness
of the male voice” can be ascribed to this elegy). In the words of one contemporary, at the London premiere on 22 July 1847 “… from the Prelude to the ultimate finale they did nothing but applaud, exclaim, shout out and ask for an encore. The maestro himself conducted
the orchestra… he met with an enthusiastic
response and was called on stage, just him and the performers, people threw flowers, and nothing could be heard except ‘Glory to Verdi! beautiful!’”
Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) laid the foundations of German Romantic opera. As Hans Pfitzner confirmed, “Weber appeared in the world to create Der Freischütz.” (H. Pfitz-ner. Gesammelte Schriften. Bd. I, Leipzig, S.90) The young Weber grew into a versatile musician. He gratefully recalled that his father Franz Anton Weber, a talented violinist and impresario
of travelling theatre companies (apropos,
the uncle of Mozart’s wife Konstanze Weber!), had taken care of his son’s musical education. The budding composer studied piano
and singing with the finest teachers, and came to master the practice of conducting. He studied composition with Michael Haydn and the abbot Joseph Vogler. His mother Genoveva
von Weber was a wonderful opera singer and passed on to her son the skill of inspired singing (had it not been for an incident that damaged his voice Weber could have gone on to be a professional singer).
All these various talents (not least his gift as an artist which he abandoned for music) were accomplished in Weber’s short but extremely intense artistic career – he was a composer, pianist, conductor, music critic and leading figure in musical theatre. In approaching his operatic masterpieces, Weber freely gave his gift to various genres of instrumental and vocal
music. They include two symphonies, piano
concerti, sonatas, variations, concertinos and concert pieces for clarinet, French horn,
bassoon, instrumental and vocal ensembles, songs, masses and cantatas…
The Grand Potpourri for cello and orchestra,
Op. 20 (1810), was created, apparently, with the participation and on the initiative of Weber’s close friend, the cellist and composer Franz Danzi. The creator of overtures adored by the public, Weber’s touch can be instantly recognised in the very first accords of the slow introduction. The instrumental themes display the nature of opera and vocalism, and the variations allow the soloist, alongside the keenly felt, truly singing cantilena to demonstrate
the variety in cello-playing technique. In conjunction with the customs of Weber’s age, the soloist had the right to perform his own cadenza – the listener joyfully recognises familiar
motifs from Der Freischütz and Oberon.
Among Richard Strauss’ (1864–1949) early works is the Romance for cello and Orchestra
in F major (1883). For all his reverence to Schumann and Brahms, natural for a German composer, he stands out with his maturity and his striving towards an independent style. This short work – both in the framing of the composition with the singing and at times passionate
Andante cantabile and in the suddenly invasive development of the “opera” scene with its recitative cello monologue and the “speaking” rejoinders of the orchestra and in the barely noticeable sparkles of the modest
orchestral detail – everything hints at the natural-born talent of a theatrical composer, one who would go on to compose operas, the creator of instrumental theatre in the spirit of Till Eulenspiegel or Don Quixote.
The catalogue of the young Richard Strauss’ unpublished works lists the Romance in F major as No 75 without opus. It was often performed by the famous Czech cellist Hans Wihan, a friend and colleague of Strauss’ father in the “Königlich Bayerische Hofkapelle”. Most recently the Romance
in F major was revived on 21 May 1986 by the cellist Jan Vogler and the Dresden Staatskapelle
under the baton of Günter Neuhold.
The variations Une Larme by Gioacchino Rossini are among those works that the composer
wrote after he stopped composing operas.
When, in 1865 Max Maria Weber (Carl Maria Weber’s son) spoke of his resolution not to write for theatre during a visit to Rossini, the maestro stopped him with a gesture of his hand: “Don’t speak to me of that. However, I compose incessantly. You see those shelves laden with music manuscripts? I wrote all of it after Guglielmo Tell. But I publish nothing: I write because I can’t do otherwise.”
The title sheet of the manuscript, kept in St Petersburg, shows the date 18 November 1858, and an addition in French: “In memory of Mikhail Vielgorsky”; beside that there is a dedication “To Count Matvei Vielgorsky”. Mikhail Vielgorsky (1788–1856) was a talented composer and celebrated musical figure. He was friends with Pushkin, Glinka, Schumann, Liszt, Berlioz and other renowned people of the age, and was famed as a highly educated musician, as Rossini said “the first connoisseur
in the world”. His younger brother Matvei Vielgorsky (1794–1866), to whom Une Larme is dedicated, was a renowned virtuoso cellist and a pupil of Bernhard Romberg.
Rossini joked that “German composers would like me to write like Haydn and Mozart.
For all I might try I would only be a poor Haydn or Mozart. So it is better that I remain Rossini… at least I am a fair Rossini.” And he is a truly divine Rossini in Une Larme, the “swan from Pesaro” that Europe adored. The elegiac, heartfelt theme, responding to the memorial genre, gives way to variations of various characters. Here we have the bravura heroic cabaletta and the intricate coloratura, the virtuoso cadenzas, the recitative declamation,
the pure illusion of an opera duet imitated by the double notes of the cello and, lastly the glittering, typically Rossini “crescendo” that crowns the variation cycle.
St Petersburg is linked to the creation of Johann
Strauß Junior’s (1825–1899) Romances for cello and orchestra. The Romances in D minor and G minor were composed and premiered
in the summer of 1860 in Pavlovsk, a suburb of St Petersburg where for over ten years (1856–1865 and in 1869) Johann Strauß directed the concert seasons at the Pavlovsk
Vauxhall with his orchestra (the Strauß-Kapelle).
Romance No 1 in D minor, Op. 243, is remarkable
for its serious tone (not by chance was the romance originally called Une pensée (“A Thought”). Strauß’ lyric romance, adored in Russia, was imbued with the features of a small symphonic poem, and it dramatised the undemanding, popular genre. It is a deeply personal expression by the composer, apparently
reflecting his own feelings. The Second Romance in G minor, Op. 255, is much more “objective” and closer to the model of the city romance, reminding us of analogous vocal
works by Russian composers from the first half of the 19th century. And the Romance Dolci pianti, composed and first performed in Pavlovsk during the summer season in 1863, breathes the air of Vienna: in the central section
there is a magical Viennese waltz.
Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782–1871) was one of the great masters of comic opera
in the 19th century. His best operas in the genre include Fra Diavolo and Domino noir and are still performed today, as is La Muette de Portici, which laid the foundations for French “grand opera”. For almost thirty years (1842–1870) Auber was director of the Paris Conservatoire;
he was a chevalier of many prestigious
awards and a member of the Institut de France from 1829. In addition to operas, he composed a great deal of instrumental works and sacred music (motets, hymns, masses, litanies), secular cantatas and songs…
A curious musical mystification is attached to Auber. A talented musician with a reputation
in Paris as a gifted ensemble player, at the very start of the 19th century he met the then renowned cellist Jacques-Michel de Lamare, who dreamed of dazzling the public with his mastery but who himself was unable to compose
sufficiently virtuoso music. In 1808–1806 under de Lamare’s name, Auber published several concerti for cello and orchestra (four or five), but the true authorship quickly became
The Rondo for cello and orchestra in A minor probably dates from a later period when Auber, familiar with Rossini’s music, had become his ardent fan. And truly, in the slow build-up episode of the Rondo and in the dance refrain in the rhythm of a tarantella
there is the undoubted mark of the Italian maestro’s influence. Rossini had a high regard for Auber’s music; once someone, believing he would be complimented, belittled Auber’s operas in Rossini’s presence, calling them “piccola musica” (small music). “So be it,” Rossini slyly corrected “but it is written by a great composer.”