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

Delius & Grieg: The complete works for cello and piano

Delius’s Sonata for Cello and Piano (1916. In this performance Raphael Wallfisch and John York capture perfectly the fleeting ebb and flow of Delius’ creation. What a wonderful partnership Wallfisch and York make, instinctively weaving the sound around each other.
The wistful flow of the Lento molto tranquillo is beautifully played by Wallfisch with John York wonderfully fluent. There is hardly a break in the flow of melody making this a demanding work for the cellist.

Romance (1896). Raphael Wallfisch produces a really passionate and anguished tone in the climaxes. Chanson d’Automne (1911) has been transcribed by John York for Cello and Piano from one of Delius’ songs. This brief piece results in something of a gem and is exquisitely played.

Grieg’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in A minor Op.36 (1883). The sonata explores all the depth and expressiveness that the cello can offer and in this recording there is some terrific playing from both Wallfisch and York.

The recording is excellent and there are excellent notes by John York. This is a lovely disc.

The The Classical Reviewer 21 September 2012

Delius – Cello concerto & Concerto for cello and violin

… this concerto has never received on disc solo work of such confidence, security and unanimity of purpose; and the expressive range of the soloists’ playing in the central section lifts this heavenly meditation on to another level altogether.

Gramophone

Chopin, Laks, Szymanowski Cello Sonatas

Imposing from the very first bar, Raphael Wallfisch finds strength in the comparatively spare cello lines of Chopin’s Sonata. He and pianist John York are very much equal partners in a work that can seem unbalanced. The Laks and Szymanowski receive equally fine performances and make for a highly atmospheric disc, full of profundities.

Editor’s Choice – Gramophone August 2010

Cello sonatas by a trio of Polish composers with French connections.

Described puzzlingly as “Chopin Cello Sonatas” – yes, he only wrote one – this is in fact a well planned programme that brings together a trio of Polish composers who all had strong connections with Paris. The perfornmance of the Chopin Sonata is unusually successful. One is often conscious in this work of a mismatch between the characteristic elaboration of the piano part and the writing for cello, generally more plain and unadorned, but Raphael Wallfisch’s eloquence disposes of any problem; the two instruments, each with its distinctive role, balance one another perfectly. There’s an air of spontaneity, yet the expressive weight of each phrase is carefully considered, by York as well as by Wallfisch, giving the whole work a powerful sense of unity. For example, the elegiac character of the first movement has a pervading influence that’s felt even in the more light-hearted finale. York and Wallfisch adopt a no-holds-barred approach to the ultra-romantic Szymanowski, a successful transcription of his early Violin Sonata. Their grand gestures carry complete conviction and sweep us along, even over the finale’s obsessive repetitions. In the central movement there’s some relaxation and a hint of Szymanowski’s characteristic impressionism. Simon Laks had already settled in Paris when he wrote his 1932 Cello Sonata. There are echoes of Les Six, Stravinski and Ravel, whose G major Violin Sonata surely provided a model for the languid, bluesy middle movement. It’s a deftly composed, attractively varied work and, as with the other items, the performance is exemplary.

Duncan Druce – Gramophone August 2010

Britten – Cello Symphony in D major

Wallfisch was the first artist to record Britten’s Cello Symphony since its dedicateé, Rostropovich. Here it is astonishing how closely Wallfisch manages to match that unique artist and there is a case for slightly preferring Wallfisch’s rather more direct approach to the craggily fragmentary first movement … he and Bedford give a more consistent sense of purpose.

Penguin Guide to CDs

William Busch – Cello Concerto

The Cello Concerto … proves a beautifully wrought, enviably terse yet warm-hearted score, its modal lyricism and appealingly ruminative manner strikingly prescient of Finzi’s gorgeous Cello Concerto (lovers of the latter should most certainly lend an ear)…. As one might expect from the calibre of the artists involved, the performances are all one could wish for. Eminently truthful sound and balance, too.
Andrew Achenbach – Gramophone

This is one of Lyrita’s never-issued releases. Recorded 17 January 1994 in Watford Town Hall [Recording dates and locations not advised in Lyrita’s annotation; copyright date for the disc’s release is 2007]