Since 2018, the Italian cellist Silvia Chiesa has been reintroducing Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Concerto for cello and orchestra, opus 72, to European audiences. On Friday 18 June 2021 she will premiere the work in Poland, in Jelenia Góra, with the Lower Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Massimiliano Caldi. This performance had been planned for March 2020, but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After its debut in 1935 with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Arturo Toscanini and featuring cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, the concerto was not heard again until a few years ago. The work is Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s only cello concerto; he wrote it a few years before Mussolini’s anti-semitic laws forced him to leave his native Italy for exile in the United States. “Castelnuovo! Many violinists will be able to play your music better than I, but no one will play it with so much love: please, write a concerto for me!” With these words, Piatigorsky managed to convince the composer, who became a life-long friend (from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Un Fiorentino in Beverly Hills by Angelo Gilardino, published by Edizioni Curci).
“The work was unjustly forgotten,” says Silvia Chiesa, “because it includes some of the most beautiful pages of music in the repertory for cello and orchestra, which is not as vast as that of the repertory for violin and orchestra, for example.” Known for her interpretations of 20th century Italian music, Silvia Chiesa also made the first Italian recording of the work in 2018 for Sony Classical with the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Caldi. “As an Italian, but above all as as musician, I believe it’s important to bring a masterpiece like this one back to life, and I’m happy to serve as its ambassador, together with my excellent colleague and friend, Massimiliano Caldi, in a country with such an important musical tradition as Poland,” she added.
Maestro Caldi commented: “When presented with the opportunity to create an Italian program at one of the musical institutions with which I collaborate in Poland, I proposed what will be, in effect, the premiere of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco work in Poland. I’m very happy to be able to collaborate again with Silvia Chiesa, with whom I shared the wonderful experience of recording the work for Sony Classical with the RAI National Orchestra.”
For information about the concert in Jelenia Góra:
To listen to an extract of the concerto: