Flight of the Bumble Bee
(Rimsky-Korsakov) · Le Cygne
(Saint-Saëns) · Elégie
(Frescobaldi) · Piece en forme de Habanera
(Ravel) · Variations on a theme by Rossini
(Martinu°) · Freischütz-Fantasie
(Cossmann) · Traviata-Paraphrase
Hungarian Rhapsody, Serenade, Elfentanz
(Rachmaninov) · Georgette
, cello · Olaf Dreßler
As high-quality “bonbons”, all concert-goers know such pieces as encores – but they often have undreamt of qualities and may become musical friends for life. Romantic virtuoso instrumental music would be unheard of without these many little “genre pieces” which are virtually custom-tailored for their particular instrument. There has always been a tradition of arranging and transcribing them for other instruments, however, as we see here with Guido Schiefen’s arrangements of such compositions for his instrument, the cello, which he present along with works written expressly for cello. And by the way, this CD just proves once again that Schiefen is one of the younger generation’s leading cellists, with energy that just doesn’t quit and the great-est of musical sensitivity.Olaf Dreßler
Olaf Dreßler was born in Dresden and lives in Munich. He studied with Prof. Webersinke in Dresden, with Rudolf Kehrer at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and in the master class of Ludwig Hoffmann in Munich. Numerous successes
and prizes have marked his career, among them the 1st prize at the “Maria Canals Competition”
in Barcelona, the 1st prize of the “Finale Ligure”, and a special award at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Olaf Dreßler has had extensive experience as a soloist and chamber musician in his own country and abroad, and has participated in many festivals.
The musical versatility and enormous technical possibilities of the violoncello have inspired generations of composers to write for that instrument. Listeners always take great pleasure in hearing and rehearing Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Swan – whose difficulty
should not be underestimated! – from his Carnival of the Animals. Arrangements of such favorites as Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight of the Bumblebee still amaze – today as well as in the past – dependent as this piece is on perfect bowing technique and the greatest possible rhythmical precision. Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, in contrast, takes advantage
of the cello’s lyrical expressiveness. If Gabriel Fauré’s Elégie evokes deep sadness, Maurice Ravel’s Piece en forme de Habanera suggests impressionistic colors on a canvas. Gaiety tinged with moodiness characterizes Bohuslav Martinu°’s variations on a theme from Rossini’s opera Moses, which place enormous technical requirements on cellists.
In the 19th century there were numerous cello virtuosos who composed for their instruments
themselves, especially David Popper, whose bravura works were highly popular.
With complex harmonies and difficult piano accompaniments, his Romantic character pieces are head and shoulders above many written by his colleagues. The Serenade, Elves’ Dance and Hungarian Rhapsody give interpreters countless opportunities to prove their musical sensibility and virtuosity. The Freischützparaphrase written by Bernhard Cossmann – once solo cellist at the Leipzig Gewandhaus as well as a friend of Franz Liszt and Hans von Bülow – is typical for its genre: he cleverly put together excerpts of popular works as a medley with a smattering of technical
difficulty – ensuring the enthusiasm of audiences
both then and now. With his arrangement
of a Toccata from Girolamo Frescobaldi, the Casals student Gaspar Cassadó continued this
tradition into the 20th century. Friedmann Dreßler, solo cellist in Duisburg, arranged
well-known Verdi melodies from La Traviata in Verdi year 2001 especially for his brother
Olaf Dreßler and Guido Schiefen.
Finally, Georges Boulanger takes us into the world of the coffee house. Born in Romania, Boulanger personified the gypsy virtuoso during the twenties and thirties; as a salon violinist he achieved international popularity.
He dedicated the piece Georgette to his dearly beloved daughter, who also carried this name. As with the La Traviata and the Freischützparaprase, Georgette is now being recorded for the first time.
Carlos A. Haas
Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler