MacMillan – Cello sonata No 1

The Cello Sonata’s impact is helped by a stunning performance – Raphael Wallfisch and John York identifying totally with the music’s volatile emotional trajectory. But all the performances, including those of the shorter pieces which complete the programme, are excellent

Gramophone

Liszt, Dohnányi, Kodály – Music for Cello & Piano

Wallfisch and York perform Liszt’s entire oeuvre for cello and piano on the first of these CDs. In every way their playing is magical, alive to every nuance and dynamic indication, and yet wearing the music’s countless and characteristically Lisztian complexities lightly enough to allow the salonesque nature of these works … to register appealingly… For once, the music notes actually set the pieces themselves in a meaningful and educative context.

Amongst these superb realizations, the inconsolable grief of La lugubre gondola … leaves an indelible impression, nobly understated yet inescapably powerful.

The second disc is given over to works by Dohnányi and Kodály, dominated by autoritative and eloquent accounts of their substantial sonatas for cello and piano.

Dohnányi Cello Sonata, op.8. This new account is exceptionally fine, with the surging and dramatic first movement delivered with power and nobility of utterance by Wallfisch. Particularly impressive is the concluding variation movement, played with surging brilliance and drama here, though, in complete contrast, it is good to hear Wallfisch and York in more overtly folk-inspired music, Dohnanyi’s winningly atmospheric Ruralia hungarica of 1924. Any more compellingly idiomatic or richly seasoned cello playing than this would be hard to contemplate!

It need hardly be added that the nimbus engineering is hugely impressive, too, bringing a seductive aural sheen to the playing of Wallfisch and York.
Michael Jameson – International Record Review

These are some very fine works fabulously played by Raphael Wallfisch and John York. The recording from Nimbus’ Wyastone Leys venue in Monmouth is clear and detailed and there are excellent notes by John York. I hope we soon have more from this terrific duo.
The Classical Reviewer See full review

Leighton – Complete Chamber works for Cello

The Elegy … [is] a seven minute essay whose songful countenance owes not a little to Vaughan Williams and Finzi.

… the Partita is cast in three movements, its opening, imploringly expressive Elegy leadingto a biting Scherzo and prodigally inventive Theme and Variations. Thi is music of impeccable craft and genuine substance, always sure of its goal and shot through with Leighton’s own pungent brand of lyricism.

Likewise the meaty and rewarding Sonata for cello that Leighton wrote for Joan Dickson … amply repays close scrutiny, its enviably concentrated and exhilaratingly resourceful finale … ultimately returning tothe elegiac mood of the work’s introduction.

Suffics it to report, Wallfisch and Terroni are superbly persuasive exponents, the performance of Alleluia Pascha Nostrum in every way a match for dedicatee Wallfisch’s own blistering workld premiere recording with his father, peter, on Chandos.

… this valuable BMS anthology merits the heartiest of plaudits.

Andrew Achenbach – Gramophone

Khachaturian – Cello concerto

Raphael Wallfisch plays superbly, achieving a near-miraculous pizzicato espressivo in the opening and closing pages of the first movement … Wallfisch gives it his all – eloquence, range of colour, fine control of the long phrase. It makes very enjoyable listening.
Gramophone

This disc is an absolute winner … Wallfisch and Thomson turn in a reading of fiery intensity … I cannot overemphasize the importance of this issue. The sound is spectacular, the music well worth attention, and the performances are all that can be asked.
Fanfare

Grieg – Cello concerto

Raphael Wallfisch brings out the epic quality as well as the tenderness in the writing of a piece that reflects the composer’s joy in returning to composition after an involuntary fallow period.

Gramophone

Finzi – Cello concerto; Leighton – Suite ‘Veris Gratia’

[Wallfisch’s] sinewy sound makes the vehemence of this music more apparent, and he sees more clearly … how much pain there is in the final climax of the slow movement: the return of serenity soon afterwards is all the more touching for this, the still coda (his tone fined down to a mere breath) all the more magical.

Gramophone

Elgar – Cello concerto in E min., Op. 85

The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2008

Elgar – Cello concerto in E min., Op. 85 (original version)
Raphael Wallfisch’s new recording is based on a new urtext edition (there are, apparently, no fewer than four alternative autograph sources for the solo part).

The edition used here is marked as carrying Elgar’s final instructions in every detail. Only a single note has had to be corrected (and that all but inaudible), but there are many differences in detail (dynamics, articulation, note lengths). There is also evidence available as to the composer’s wishes concerning phrasing in the two recordings he conducted himself with Beatrice Harrison as soloist; and in two cases there are striking tempi changes (based on Elgar’s own practice): in the appassionato section of the slow movement and at the end of the main quick section of the finale. But none of this would be effective were the soloist and conductor here not passionately involved in the music as they feel it. After the commanding opening flourish, Wallfisch and Dickins set off very gently indeed, and the cello and the orchestral strings sing their song with touching restraint. The whole movement is infused with subtle delicacy of feeling which carries through to the quicksilver Scherzo, played by Wallfisch with scurrying brilliance. Yet orchestral tutti are contrastingly full-bodied, and the solo timbre is equally rich in the passionate interruptions and in the tenderly expressive Adagio. The finale unleashes the music’s energy joyously, with more brilliant solo playing; but the return to the intensity of the slow movement has a heartfelt elegiac feeling, before the abrupt surge to the coda. The recording is spacious, richly realistic and ideally balanced and, with its enterprising couplings, this CD is very desirable indeed.

Bridge – Oration: Concerto elegiaco (for cello & orchestra)
… The works is superbly played by Raphael Wallfisch, movingly accompanied by the RLPO, sensitively directed by Richard Dickins. The recording is beautifully balanced, and of the highest quality. The ocupled Elgar and Holst performances are no less distinctive.

Holst – Invocation for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 19/2
… It is a highly attractive and lyrical piece, with a big central climax, finely realised here, and a valuable addition to the catalogue. … the new version is in every way admirable, with some touching solo playing from Wallfisch, and it is splendidly recorded.

Tim Homfray – The Strad July 2006

Elgar Cello Concerto: … this is a fine open-hearted performance by Raphael Wallfisch, soulful in all the right places and elsewhere fizzing with energy and purpose: this is a reading that always knows where it’s going.
Bridge Oration: Wallfisch plays with authority and great emotional depth.
Holst – Invocation: Holst’s Invocation of 1911 is a strikingly lyrical work, long neglected … Wallfisch is a worthy advocate. The recorded sound is warm and clear.

Gramophone

This must be one of the most melancholic interpretations of the Elgar concerto on disc. The Scherzo seems more nervous than playful and the finale marches with a grim purposefulness; an especially fragile and tender Adagio offers brief solace.

Dvorak – Cello concerto; Dohnanyi – Konzertstück for cello

Dvorak cello concerto: Wallfisch’s inspired recording is marked by deep, unexaggerated expressiveness and thrillingly taut coordination between soloist, conductor and orchestra, setting it apart from other modern versions.
Gramophone

“For an enjoyable excellently recorded performance from the last 25 years I would go for Raphael Wallfisch and Sir Charles Mackerras with the LSO … [This performance] is getting the balance between lyricism and drama absolutely right”.
Jan Smaczny – CD Review: Building a Library, 9 June 2012