When Pablo Casals rediscovered the cello suites of Bach at the beginning of the 20th century and firmly established them in the concert and record repertoire, the novel thing about it was that he played them "senza basso", i.e. without piano accompaniment - something that seemed quite unimaginable in the 19th century. In a time of music-historical over-maturity and experimentation, renowned composers soon came up with their own attempts, among them most famously Max Reger's "Solo Suites" and Kodály's "Solo Sonata", both written in 1915.
In his search for repertoire inspiration, the internationally acclaimed cellist Julius Berger has made amazing discoveries especially in this early history of new cello solo music - some even before 1915 - and presents them here as a performer in a most lively way. In the accompanying booklet, he enriches the production by adding exciting and witty stories worth knowing about the composers recorded here and their works.
The introduction and transition to the new discoveries is made with the second of Reger's three suites, which Julius Berger comments on in an informative and very personal way.
Adolf Busch (1891-1952) is a late representative of the interpreter-composer type, on the one hand an eminent musician of the best German (emigrant) tradition, a world-famous violinist, and on the other hand a composer who is at the same time a highly experienced instrumentalist. Busch, who was a friend of Reger, wrote a Suite dedicated to his cellist brother Hermann in 1914, which is beyond neo-baroque models as regards the character of its movements, as well as a "Prelude and Fugue" from 1922, such as often composed by Bach, but not for cello.
The most extensive movement on the album features the famous, multi-talented British composer and musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey (1875-1940), who was a friend of the Busch brothers and admired as a genius by Casals. His expansive "Passacaglia" reminiscent of Bach's "Ciaconna" is admirably mastered with regard to its large-scale form (and likewise its interpretation here!) and dates from 1910.
The programme is completed by a suite that makes reference to baroque movement types by Swiss composer and Munich composition teacher Walter Courvoisier (1875-1931) from 1921, which Julius Berger premiered as recently as 1 October 2022.
Max Reger: Suite No. 2 in D minor, op. 131c for Violoncello solo
Donald Francis Tovey: Passacaglia D major from: Sonata for Violoncello solo, op. 30
Adolf Busch: Suite, op. 8a for Violoncello
Adolf Busch: Präludium and Fugue in D minor, op. 8b for Violoncello
Walter Courvoisier: Suite in B minor, op. 32 No. 2 for Violoncello solo