Carl Friedrich Abel Cello Concertos Nice and Light

Carl Friedrich Abel was the most famous — and one of the last — viola da gamba virtuosos. And he was also a talented composer, comfortable writing in many genres. 

The four concertos on this release are all original compositions. That is, they’re not transcribed viola da gamba concerti. Abel wrote them for the cello.

Abel and his business partner Johann Christian Bach wrote in the style galante. This style bridged the gap between the Baroque Era of J.S. Bach and the Classical Era of Haydn and Mozart. 

The concertos were written in the 1780s. While the ensemble does have a harpsichord, it’s buried deep in the background. Abel’s orchestration uses winds and brass, in a way like Haydn’s. 

The Berliner Barock Solisten plays modern instruments. this gives the ensemble a warm, homogenous sound. 

Bruno Delepelaire delivers some amiable performances. Style galante is about simplicity and elegance. Delepelaire plays with delicacy and finesse. His runs are cleanly articulated and his phrasing gives the music a spark.

Two of the concertos receive their world premiere recordings with this release. Abel was a big name in the late 1700s. But he’s since been overshadowed by Haydn and Mozart. Recordings like this may help right the balance. Abel was a talented performer and composer. Both skills come into play, I think, with these works. 

Not to be missed. 

Carl Friedrich Abel: Cello Concertos
Bruno Delepelaire, cello
Berliner Barock Solisten; Kristof Polnek, director
Hanssler Classics

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