Georg Goltermann’s Music Receives Sympathetic Performances

If you’re a cellist, you’re probably familiar with Georg Goltermann — at least to some extent. Goltermann was a virtuoso cellist and composer active in the mid-1800s. 

His fourth cello concerto has a relatively easy solo part. For that reason, it’s known as the “student’s concerto.” And it’s often performed in student recitals. Some of his shorter works for cello and piano are also used as teaching pieces for the instrument.

According to Wikipedia, Goltermann’s concertos aren’t performed by professional orchestras.  The entry states the “lack the musicality of true concertos.” and even the “student concerto” “is not considered inspired.” Ouch.

Fortunately, I auditioned this recording before reading that entry. I found Goltermann’s Cello Concerto No. 1 to be a heartfelt and engaging work. The melodies are well-crafted, and the composition shows real talent. 

Goltermann uses the cello effectively. No matter how technically difficult the music is, it all seems to lay well on the instrument. 

And Goltermann knew how to use the cello to best advantage. I think there’s plenty of musicality in this concerto. Especially as  Jamal Aliyev played it. This is real heart-on-your-sleeve Romanticism and Allyev doesn’t hold back. His performances kept me genuinely interested in what was going to happen next.

Goltermann’s 1802 Symphony in A minor reminded me of Weber with a hint of Beethoven. Goltermann was also a professional conductor. I believe this experience informed his creation of the symphony. 

It’s definitely of the Romantic Era. The symphony has plenty of extreme dynamics and exciting climaxes. But to me it also sounds like a carefully-constructed work. Goltermann lays out his themes and develops them in a controlled, logical fashion.

I don’t think Howard Griffiths read the Wikipedia entry, either. He and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra seem invested in these works. Griffiths brings out the orchestra’s skill, making this music comes alive. 

There are some moments of real beauty in these works. And you don’t have to search very hard to find them.

Georg Goltermann: Cello Concerto No. 1; Symphony in A minor
Romance in A
Jamal Aliyev, cello
ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra; Howard Griffiths, conductor
Capriccio C5469

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