Digital resources for French Romantic music

Cello Concerto (Marie Jaëll)




Allegro moderato – Andantino sostenuto – Vivace molto


First performed in May 1882 at the Salle Érard under the direction of Charles Lamoureux, Marie Jaëll’s Cello Concerto in F major has enjoyed a fine concert career. First championed by its dedicatee, Jules Delsart, it was also performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus by the Belgian cellist Adolphe Fischer. In contrast with certain concertos whose orchestral textures have a reputation for drowning out the soloist, this work has a light and delicate instrumentation that allows the cello to shine. It borrows images connected to the New World, as Dvořák did after her in his own Cello Concerto (1896). At the end of a breathtaking Allegro moderato that plunges the listener into vast unexplored spaces, the composer’s inspiration is particularly lofty in the slow movement, a delicate Andantino sostenuto played by the strings alternating pizzicati and bowing each time the melody is repeated; the short central section of the movement, in its unusual 9/16 metre — a sort of ternary beat within a ternary beat — reinforces the poignant swaying of the musical expression, and enhances the effect of the ethereal cello. The feverish, tarantella-like finale concludes an extremely concise work that lasts barely fifteen minutes and captivates with its simplicity, energy and clarity. The small instrumental forces place the solo instrument in the heart of the musical discourse, surrounding and adorning it with appropriate colours and textures.

    Person - 1
  • JAËLL, Marie (1846-1925)
  • Themes - 4
  • Compositrices
  • Genre – Le concerto en France au XIXe siècle
  • Instruments à cordes – L’École française de violoncelle
  • Strings – The Romantic cello