“Both Schumann (1810-56) and Piatti (1822-1901) played an important role in the development of the cello, and in raising expectations of what it could achieve as a solo instrument. That there is a more tangible link between Schumann and Piatti is not so well known. During my research for the new edition of the Schumann Concerto, published by Edition Peters and based on the Kraków autograph, I discovered among leaves from the original manuscript held in the Bergamo, Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai, Italy, a message from Clara Schumann, dated October 1881, in which she offers Piatti her husband’s concerto: “To Mr. Piatti, with fond memories, Clara Schumann.” It is possible that she was even present when Piatti gave the British premiere of the Schumann Concerto, at the Crystal Palace, London in 1866. I am delighted that these three nineteenth-century masterpieces can now be celebrated on this disc.”
In these words, Josephin Knight sums up the choice of combining in a single CD Schumann’s Concerto for cello and orchestra with the Concertino op.18 and the Concerto op.26 by Alfredo Piatti. The streets of Clara Schumann and Alfredo Piatti crossed several times on the English stages, starting from 1856 a deep mutual esteem bound the two great interpreters together. It was certainly Clara who made her husband’s compositions known and appreciated by Piatti. After playing for the first time with Clara, on May 13, 1856, at the Musical Union, Piatti began indeed to systematically include Schumann’s compositions in his own concert programs, while before that date he had never performed Schumann’s compositions. And therefore it appears natural that Piatti had been entrusted with the first London performance of Schumann’s Concerto.
Schumann’s Concert is very well known today. Josephin Knight offers an excellent interpretation of it highlighting the emotional tension without losing the interpretative balance and demonstrating his own ability to dialogue well with the Royal Northern Symphony that supports her under the expert guidance of Martin Yates. Much less well known are the two pieces by Piatti, certainly worthy of entering fully into the cellist repertoire. To perform them, it is necessary to possess not only a complete technical mastery of the cello but also the sensitivity necessary to authentically make the instrument sing. Josephin Knight certainly passes the test with flying colors, with grace, balance, and decision, proving herself the worthy heir of Alfredo Piatti at the Royal Academy of Music.
In the CD booklet, interesting historical information allows a contextualized listening of the three pieces proposed.
Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129
Nicht zu schnell
Piatti: Concertino for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 18
Allegro appassionato – con sentimento
Adagio – più animato
Allegro vivo agitato
Piatti: Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 26
Maestoso – Poco più moderato – Cadenza – Più moderato