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.


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]

Boccherini – Cello concertos Nos. 9-12

Clearly and vividly recorded in a resonant church acoustic this third volume of Raphael Wallfisch’s Boccherini project features four concertos that sit between the galant and Classical styles.
Wallfisch is equal to Boccherini’s extensive technical demands, whether in the tenor register, passagework in the high thumb positions, double- and multiple-stopping or rapid string crossing. His interpretations are appropriately direct and expressively restrained and his imaginative phrasing and honeyed tone colour are bewitching throughout.

Robin Stowell – The Strad, April 2005

Bloch – Caplet – Ravel

“…In Ravel’s Kaddisch the cello takes the vocal line, the modal Missinai melody, here given a masterfully eloquent account by Raphael Wallfisch, who carefully charts the long melismas to give overall shape to the musical prayer … This innate flexibility in the nature of the writing is both celebrated and controlled in this warm recording, with both Raphael and Benjamin Wallfisch steering a purposeful sense of direction through the narrative, thus achieving compelling cogency. Raphael brings impressive colour and characterisation to the cello part – bold, dramatic and magically sensitive, particularly in his reading of Schelomo – and Benjamin is outstanding in Epiphanie, where the intricate, Debussyan instrumentation is exquisitely textured, and the orchestral partnership is subtle and nuanced.”
Joanne Talbot, The Strad, May 2014

…a really magnificent collection which presents four works with a linked ethos which complement each other superbly. The playing, both from Raphael Wallfisch, is really something special.
Paul Corfield Godfrey, Musicweb International, March 2014

There is some exquisite music-making here; the Welsh players excel in Bloch’s Voice in the Wilderness and Schelomo, underpinning Raphael’s gloriously rich, sonorous solo lines. And André Caplet’s sparkling Epiphanie makes an enchanting counter to Kaddish, Ravel’s deeply felt homage to Jewish melody.
Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, January 2014

Wallfisch’s partnership with his gifted son Benjamin and an audibly fired-up BBC National Orchestra of Wales yields consistently engrossing, characterful and fervent results. Ravel’s Kaddisch receives comparably understanding treatment and is preceded by an exotic rarity in the shape of André Caplet’s Épiphanie, a most beguiling, captivatingly inventive canvas from 1923-24 incorporating elements of (among other things) Ethiopian folk music. A truly splendid release, this, faithfully engineered in Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall, and movingly dedicated by Wallfisch père et fils ‘to the many members of our family that perished in the Holocaust.
Andrew Achenbach, Classical Ear, January 2014

This is an intensely personal disc, released in advance of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January. Cellist Raphael Wallfisch and his conductor son Benjamin dedicate this recording to family members who perished in the camps, and follows a Kristallnacht concert given in Vienna last year by Raphael and his mother, 88-year-old cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch , a survivor of Auschwitz and founder member of the English Chamber Orchestra . There is some exquisite music-making here; the Welsh players excel in Bloch’s Voice in the Wilderness and Schelomo, underpinning Raphael’s gloriously rich, sonorous solo lines. And Andre Caplet’s sparkling Epiphanie makes an enchanting counter to Kaddish, Ravel’s deeply felt homage to Jewish melody
Stephen Pritchard, The New Review, January 2014

I found this disc very moving, especially in the context of the World War I anniversary. Raphael Wallfisch plays with an intensity that seems to be even greater than his other concerto recordings, while the orchestral playing and recording is exceptionally vivid. This is music whose melodies and colours can be greatly appreciated with repeated listening, where the music also becomes more directly affecting. It is very highly recommended.
Ben Hogwood,

5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Wallfisch Family, 17 Jan 2014
By Butetown Billboard – See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Whenever one reads of the survival of a musical family despite the best efforts of the Nazi régime, the heart has a tendency to lift. So it is for me with the latest CD to be performed by Raphael Wallfisch, the eminent cellist, with his son Benjamin Wallfisch conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The recording was made in the excellent accoustic of the Hoddinott Hall within the Wales Millennium Centre.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch survived Auschwitz and Belsen because she was – and is – a cellist. She and her sister played with a group of musicians in the camps conducted by a niece of Gustav Mahler. It seems incredible that beautiful music could be appreciated by men and women whose business it was to perform such hideous acts on their fellow human beings, but so it was that Anita Lasker was able to survive the war, eventually make her way to England, meet and marry the pianist Peter Wallfisch and then have wonderfully-gifted children who also made their careers in music.

Her son, Raphael, has dedicated this CD of Jewish music to the memory of the many lost members of his family, killed in the Holocaust. It’s all a long time ago, but the horrors of that time are not forgotten, nor should they be. This CD is published to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, on January 27th, which asks us to remember not just the Nazi persecution, but also subsequent holocausts, whether in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur or now, potentially, in central Africa.

The choice of music is an interesting mixture of the familiar and the less so. After Bloch’s ‘Voice in the Wilderness’, there’s a less familiar work, ‘Epiphanie’, by André Caplet. This is an unusual setting of the story of the Adoration of the Magi and the birth of Christ, with the cello as soloist in this kind-of concerto. After this comes the more familiar Ravel setting of the Jewish prayer, ‘Kaddish’. Raphael Wallfisch greatly admired the closing work, ‘Shelomo, une Rhapsodie hébraïque’, even as a child, before he was able play the notes.

This is a beautifully-played and beautifully-recorded CD. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinemascope in Cardiff, 10 Feb 2014
By Delius – See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
There has been a lot of publicity, not to say hyperbole, surrounding this disc. It is intended as a memorial, by the principal artists Raphael and Benjamin Wallfisch, to family and friends who perished in the obscenity of the Holocaust.

To achieve this aim puts pressure on the resulting CD and I’m pleased to report it honours them in the best way possible.

Whilst not masterpieces perhaps I certainly think Schelomo and Voice in the Wilderness…. as well as Ravel’s setting of the Kaddish… are pretty good pieces, and ones to which I will return often. The Ravel incidentally is the composer’s own transcription of a song originally for baritone and piano.

It’s always interesting how Bloch seemed to think in cinemascope, in terms of the sound world he conjured up. You could easily be forgiven for imagining a Hollywood “rope and sandals” blockbuster whilst listening to these pieces. Yet
Schelomo’s composition dates from the Great War, whilst Voices appeared in the mid 1930’s.

These are descriptive scores though not ones necessarily telling a detailed story. They are more evocations of moods and landscapes, with the solo cello meditating and subtly commenting on the action or scenario. Yes there are clear Hebraic influences but its the combination of rich melody and subtle orchestration that is for me, irresistible. Father (Raphael) and son (Benjamin) Wallfisch work perfectly together, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is on top form – an expression of just how good the Corporations’s orchestras are at the moment.

And….I musn’t forget the Caplet, which was completely unknown to me, and is an interesting and worthwhile new discovery.

I had previously only associated him with Debussy, ie for his orchestration of “La boite a joujoux” , and (I think) involvement with the unfinished project “The Fall of the House of Usher” (??). Sadly his life was cut short. Gassed in the trenches in WW1 he subsequently died of pleurisy in 1925, aged only 47.

This issue is marked out by excellence and true sentiment (not sentimentality), and is blessed with equally fine recorded sound from the BBC’s Hoddinott Hall, the latest addition to the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music in Remembrance of an Historical Occasion, 20 Jan 2014
By Philip Ashton – See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
If there was an unappreciated, underrated and underperformed 20th century composer, it’s certainly the Swiss-American Ernest Bloch. his work is often inspired by an intense religiosity spring from his Jewish roots. This recording of Schelomo is a case in point. The beautiful tone of Raphael Wallfisch’s cello with the excellent accompaniment by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by his son Benjamin leaves nothing to be desired. There have been a few other recordings of this work over the years,amongst one on the Supraphon label (Navarra and Ancerl). But this one has presence, excellent sound and is to be preferred above all others.

Voices in the Wilderness consists of six meditations and although originally conceived for the piano,the composer decided rightly to add a cello part. This is worth listening to as is the rest of this CD’s contents.

Andre Caplet(1878-1925)
Epiphanie is called in English “A musical fresco after an Ethiopian legend”, here are three movements, each of which in turn are sometimes intense, sometimes transparent and refined, that form the backdrop to the virtuoso writing for the solo instrument. In each of the three movements the cello expresses moods and feelings ranging from beauty and tenderness to menace and mystery (quote from accompanying notes).

Finally we have KADDISH by Maurice Ravel. This five minute piece is in praise of GOD . There are numerous traditional melodies and the one used by Ravel is a(“Missinai” tune as sacred as if it had been handed to Moses on Mount Sinai)again excerpt from accompanying notes by Raphael Wallfisch.

Raphael Wallfisch has released this CD which is dedicated to the many members of his family that perished in the Holocaust.

It is well recommended not only for the occasion but for the sheer musicality of Raphael and the BBC NOW conducted by his brother Benjamin Wallfisch.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jewish musical commemoration, 27 Jan 2014
By Arthur Francis – See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
I write this review on Holocaust Memorial Day for a recording dedicated by Raphael Wallfisch to the memory of the many members of his family who perished in the Holocaust. His mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, was, as a cellist herself, put into the Auschwitz concentration camp women’s orchestra in 1943 and spared the gas chambers simply because she could play. Later, having survived both Auschwitz and Belsen, she made her way to London where she met and married the pianist Peter Wallfisch and helped to create the English Chamber Orchestra.

Here Raphael and his son, conductor Benjamin, offer us not only two of the greatest works for the cello by Ernest Bloch, but also music by André Caplet and Maurice Ravel, all of it having Jewish connections. The two Bloch works are Voice in the Wilderness and Solomon (Schelomo in the Hebrew), the first being six meditations for cello and orchestra and Schelomo (written 21 years earlier) thoughts on the Book of Ecclesiaties. Also included are Epiphanie, three movements telling the story of the Adoration of the Magi, by Caplet, and Ravel’s setting of the Hebrew prayer Kaddish.

These works, accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales are given wonderfully sympathetic performances by an artist who has known the Bloch pieces all his life in a really splendid recording in Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall by Nimbus Records – excellent in every respect!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most satisying cello/orchestral experience, 29 Jan 2014
By Jack L. Honigman (Manchester, U.K.) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Other reviewers have written of the history of the Wallfisch family and the Holocaust Memorial Day which has inspired this recording so I will limit myself to the music. The two pieces by Bloch are more a continuing dialogue between the cello and the orchestra rather than a conversation as may be applied to a concerto. The music is beautifully composed giving a most harmonious relationship between the components. It hardly needs to be said that Raphael Wallfisch plays superbly but he is most closely accompanied by the National Orchestra of Wales conducted by his son. Well worth listening to.
The Epiphanie, by Caplet, takes a different tack in that the emphasis is more on the virtuosity of the cellist rather than the simpler blending found in the Bloch works. Again, Raphael Wallfisch is well up to the mark here.
The Ravel Kaddish is most interesting since while the composer was not Jewish and has no Jewish antecedents, nevertheless he captures the mood of the High Holyday Nusach – the traditional musical atmosphere of the Jewish service.
Altogether, a most satisfying musical experience for the listener and the accompanying notes are most informative but why must designers nowadays have to produce covers where dark grey is superimposed on black? A triumph of design over common sense.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voice in the Wilderness, 6 Feb 2014
By Wantage – See all my reviews
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
An excellent CD, full of interesting and beautifully played music. The only piece I was at all familiar with was Bloch’s Schelomo. However the other Bloch piece on this CD is his Voice in the Wilderness. This is a wonderfully evocative piece made up of six sections which are varied in character.
I was not familiar with the French composer Andre Caplet, but here is an extremely colourful piece, Epiphanie, which contains virtuosic writing for the cello. Ravel, although not Jewish, captures the spirit of the music wonderfully.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wallfisch CD, 25 Feb 2014
By maryshe – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
I bought this after reading a review in the paper, and found the story of Raphael Wallfisch and his mother’s experiences in Auschwitz very moving. The CD lived up to my expectations.

5.0 out of 5 stars Music played in Auschwitz, 19 Feb 2014
By ProfJohn – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bloch Schelomo & Voice In The Wilderness, Caplet Epiphanie, Ravel Kaddish (Audio CD)
Cello music played by the son of Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, conductor by her grandson, that was played in Auschwitz.
The standard of the playing is excellent and the associated history is very moving.

Bliss – Cello concerto

Listening to Raphael Wallfisch’s superb performance of the Cello Concerto … I found myself constantly exclaiming ‘Why don’t we hear this work all the time?’