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20th Century Music for Cello

Ernest Bloch, Benjamin Britten, Gaspar Cassadó, Paul Hindemith




"Whitcomb gives solid performances..."
The Whole Note [April 2022]
"The contrasts among the pieces on an MSR Classics CD featuring cellist Benjamin Whitcomb all come from the 20th century: the four works heard here date from 1922 to 1967. It is the composers’ handling of the solo cello that provides the aural spectrum on this disc... Whitcomb plays all these works attentively and engagingly, allowing each its own form of expressiveness while producing a totality that showcases some of the many directions in which composers took cello writing in the 20th century. The disc as a whole may be of particular interest to cello performers
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [April 2022]
"A pair of young American musical artists whose careers are rising fast are featured in a program of challenging works that illustrate just how fast rising they are... The proof is in the exceptionally mature grasp of the music that both reveal in the present program of works by Astor Piazzolla, Manuel de Falla, Samuel Barber and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Miss Smith receives the spotlight in this release of recordings on the strength of her extraordinarily beautiful, vibrant tone, but credit Miller for a solid presence as collaborative artist that makes his presence felt in all these program items."
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [April 2022]
The cello is a wonderfully versatile instrument, and perhaps the repertoire that best showcases this quality is that which was written for unaccompanied cello. This album contains four of my favorites in this genre. While there are significant differences among them, there are similarities as well, such as the influence of Baroque style and form.

Two of the works heard here were written in the 1920s, the other two in the 1950s - 60s. I have arranged the works on the album according to how progressive they sound to me, from most conservative to most modern. The Bloch Suite, while not an overtly neo-classical work, possesses a Baroque clarity of texture and a tuneful modality that makes it eminently accessible. Cassadó’s Suite comprises dance structures and a clear tonality, but also uses some much more advanced technical devices. The Hindemith is the least tonal of the group and it does not strive to be particularly tuneful or beholden to established forms. The Britten suite, despite having more of a tonal center than the Hindemith sonata, sounds the most contemporary of the group through its harmonic language and modern techniques.

Benjamin Whitcomb is an active recitalist and chamber musician, performing frequently throughout the United States and abroad. He is a member of the Ancora String Quartet and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Piano Trio. Whitcomb is a prolific author, having published dozens of articles in six different journals and presented more than 30 papers at national and international music conferences. He has contributed to three books and published ten, including The Advancing String Player’s Handbook series, Cello Fingerings, and Bass Fingerings, all of which have been well-received in numerous journals. More recent books include the Compendium of Chords series and the Guide to Practicing the Popper Etudes. Whitcomb is also highly sought after as a presenter, adjudicator and master clinician, and is very active in the American String Teachers Association. At the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, he initiated and continues to coordinate numerous musical events, including the Theory and History Colloquium speaker series, Musical Mosaics Concert Series and Summer String Camp. Whitcomb is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Oklahoma State University, and has studied with George Neikrug, Evan Tonsing and Phyllis Young. He is currently a Professor of Cello and Music Theory at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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Violoncello by Raymond Schryer (2002) modeled after the designs of Francesco Ruggieri. Bow by J. Martin
ERNST BLOCH (1880-1959)
SUITE NO.1 FOR UNACCOMPANIED CELLO (1956)                                      
I. Prelude
II. Allegro
III. Canzona
IV. Allegro
GASPAR CASSADÓ (1897-1966)
I. Preludio – Fantasia
II. Sardana
III. Intermezzo e Danza finale
PAUL HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
CELLO SONATA, OP.25 NO.3 (1922)
I. Lebhaft, sehr markiert
II. Mäßig schnell, Gemächlich
III. Langsam
IV. Lebhafte Viertel
V. Mäßig schnell
I. Declamato: Largo
II. Fuga: Andante
III. Scherzo: Allegro molto
IV. Andante lento
V. Ciaccona: Allegro

Recorded January 2021 at Tanner-Monagle Studios, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Recording engineer: Ric Probst.

MSR Classics
20th Century Music for Solo Cello BENJAMIN …

J.S. BACH & GABRIELLI: 1, 3 & 5
J.S. BACH & GABRIELLI: 1, 3 & 5
J.S. Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 3 & 5