Martin – Cello Concerto, Ballade for Cello and Chamber orchestra

‘Quirine Viersen, a pupil of Heinrich Schiff amongst others, delivers particularly expressive accounts of the Cello Concerto and Ballade, both works beautifully written for the instrument and presenting the composer’s distinctively acerbic compositional style in a most convincing light.’

— BBC Music Magazine

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

Pierre Fournier asked the composer for a cello concerto in 1960, but the opera Monsieur Pourceaugnac was taking up all of his time at that period; Martin was finally only able to begin the commission in 1965 and complete it in 1966. The piece is classical in form: the first movement is an Allegro moderato that follows a slow introduction. The second movement, Adagietto, is like a sarabande in character; in the Finale Martin introduces syncopated rhythms that, together with the timbre of the alto saxophone, give the piece a jazzy feeling. The cello concerto is dedicated to Paul Sacher.

Ballade for Cello and Chamber Orchestra

This ballade for cello was composed in two versions simultaneously in 1949: one with piano accompaniment and one with chamber orchestra accompaniment. The ballade had long been a freely-structured form and had been utilised principally by Chopin in the Romantic period. Its narrative character seems to have been more important for its development than a strict formal structure. The piece seems to begin with a solo cadenza: the cello begins with a nostalgic theme in double-stopping against a background of strings and harp. An important role is also reserved for the cor anglais. A gradual increase in volume and dissonance culminates in a dramatic climax, after which we return to the pastoral tranquillity of the beginning. The world premiere was conducted by Paul Sacher.

From liner notes by Siebe Riedstra

‘Cellist Quirine Viersen’s performance goes a long way to making listeners believe that both of these works should be included in the instrument’s standard repertoire. Her technique is quite astounding — polished, refined tone quality, precise intonation, well-articulated right arm work, and brilliantly executed rhythm. Adding to her solid technical performance is a variety of musical characters; long, flowing lines; and attention to nuance.’

— AllMusic

‘Written at the request of Pierre Fournier and dedicated to Paul Sacher, this work strikes me as one of the finest cello concertos of the 20th century. Seldom recorded so far, it seems to be awaiting the recognition that is due and may come from this superb rendition by Quirine Viersen. Her playing is intense, highly-controlled and yet sensitive to the passionate undercurrents in the music. The supporting musicians under Kenneth Montgomery are also very convincing.

The Ballade for cello is a substantial work which often presages the moods of the concerto. If anything, it is an even more personal utterance and Quirine Viersen is again equal to its challenges.’

— MusicWeb International