Cello masterpieces: Concertos I

The cello became recognized as a solo instrument in the second half of the 17th century. During this period many cellists-especially in Italy-published cello solos. At the turn of the 18th century composers began to write cello concertos, in imitation of violin concertos.

Luigi Boccherini, the greatest cello virtuoso during the classical period, left behind at least 10 cello concertos. His concerto in B-flat major is now the most well-known of these. However, a version arranged by Friedrich Grutzmacher (a German cellist active during the second half of the 19th century) that differs considerably from the original composition (for example, the second movement is taken from a completely different piece of music) was played more often, leaving the original fascination of Boccherini obscured for some time. Fortunately there are now many more opportunities to hear the original version played. The world is now gaining an appreciation for the true charm of Boccherini's concertos, which combine song-like melodies with truly advanced technique.

Luigi Boccherini

Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)

Although this concerto was written by Haydn during his mature period, up until the middle of the 20th century the world was unsure as to whether or not he had actually composed it. However, we now know without a shadow of a doubt that it was written by him. Even though the solo parts are very technically written, rather than accompanying the solo cello, the orchestra and cello seem to enter into a flamboyant dialog. It is thought that Haydn composed this concerto for his friend Anton Kraft, a famous cellist. Incidentally, Kraft played the solo cello parts during the first performance of Beethoven's "Triple Concerto in C Major, Op. 56."