Home » Uncategorized » Gaspar Cassado and the Cello Concerto based on Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata

Gaspar Cassado and the Cello Concerto based on Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata

     Gaspar Cassadó (September 30, 1897 –December 24,  1966) was a Spanish cellist and composer of the early 20th century. He was born in Barcelona to a church musician father.  His father started teaching him music when he was five, and at the age of seven he began cello lessons with a prominent Barcelona cellist, who worked at the Mercedes Chapel with his father.  When he was nine, Gaspar played in a recital where Pablo Casals was in the audience; Casals immediately offered to teach him. The city of Barcelona awarded him a scholarship so that he could study with Casals in Paris. In fact, he may have been Casal’s youngest pupil, when he studied with him in Paris in 1910.  He also studied composition with Manuel de Falla and Maurice Ravel.

      At the end of World War I, Cassado started touring internationally, and became a world famous cellist. He played under most of the leading conductors of his time, including such greats as Furtwangler, Beecham and Weingartner. His performance of the Brahms Double Concerto with Joseph Szigeti was especially appreciated.   Cassado loved Italy, and settled in Florence, where he lived for over thirty years. As a cellist he was more austere and noble, than flamboyant in his approach. He was a good composer, and his pieces are still played today, in particular his Requiebros, and his Concerto in D Minor (1926), which he dedicated to Casals and is influenced by Spanish and Oriental folk music, and Impressionism.  Since Cassado studied composition with Maurice Ravel, a Ravel-influenced “carnival music” appears in the second theme of the first movement. The second movement is a theme and variations which leads directly to a pentatonic Rondo

     In 1964 Cassado premiered six unpublished cello sonatas of Boccherini, and performed them on a Strad cello that was once owned by the composer. Eve Barsham, his accompanist, had discovered the manuscripts in the archives of the Duke of Hamilton in Scotland. Cassado died in 1966 of a heart attack, after a strenuous tour of a flood stricken area of Florence where he was raising funds for those who had been devastated by the natural catastrophe.

     In addition to his own original Cello Concerto, Cassado arranged and performed a number of concerto transcriptions such as the Cello Concerto in F major, based on C.P.E. Bach’s Concerto No. 3 in A major, Wq.172; the Cello Concerto in D major, based on Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, K.44; the Cello Concerto in E major, based on Tchaikovsky’s Piano Pieces, Op. 72 (1940, in which he transformed nine of Tchaikovsky’s pieces into a concerto; he used No. 18 Scene dansante (Invitation au trepak), No. 3 Tendres Reproches and No. 14 Chant Elegiaque in the first movement; No. 5 Meditation and No. 8 Dialogue in the second and No. 4 Danse Caracteristique, No. 2 Berceuse, No. 17 Passe Lointain and No. 1 Impromptu in the third); the Cello Concerto in D major, based on Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op.74; the Cello Concerto in E minor, based on Vivaldi’s Cello Sonata No. 5, RV.40; and the Guitar Concerto in E major, based on Boccherini’s Concerto No. 2 in D major, G.479 (which he completely rewrote for his colleague Andrés Segovia).

    Perhaps the best known today of these transcription concertos is:

Concerto in am for Cello and Orchestra Adapted from Schubert’s Arpeggionne Sonata (1929).


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