Bernhard Romberg: Cello Concertos 1 & 5

Davit Melkonyan cello, Kölner Akademie, Michael Alexander Willens
58:36
cpo 777 969-2

Romberg is a name one reads over and over again in histories of music – of course, Bernhard of that ilk was but one of many – but this is the first time I have knowingly heard music by any of them; and what an experience! These are two beautiful cello concertos, both in three movements (one in B flat major, the other in the even less cello-friendly key of F sharp minor) and both oozing gorgeous melodies and virtuoso writing in buckets for the soloist, which Davit Melkonyan despatches with apparent ease. This is, of course, just the latest in a long line of hits from Willens & Co., with their signature approach to discovering great music off the beaten track; it takes a leap of faith to thinking that there must be a reason why someone’s name keeps popping up to actually performing and recording the music, but cpo and especially this orchestra have shown time and again that there are many absolute jewels awaiting re-discovery, among them these two gems. More strength to their elbow!

Brian Clark