Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations (Tortelier)

Paul Tortelier
Today I present an early recording by the great French cellist, Paul Tortelier (1914-1990), famous for his interpretation of Strauss' Don Quixote, which he played under the composer's direction, and which he recorded with Sir Thomas Beecham in 1947.  (Beecham said to him, "my boy, you will succeed in England because you have temperament.")  The next year, he made this recording of Tchaikovsky's delightful Rococo Variations (it seems to me that some of Tchaikovsky's happiest music was in the variation form - think of the Orchestral Suite No. 3, or the great Piano Trio):

Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
Paul Tortelier, cello, with orchestra conducted by Norman Del Mar
Recorded March 23, 1948
HMV C 3776 and C 3777, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 40.49 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 18.88 MB)

This must have been the first recording made by Norman Del Mar (1919-1994) as a conductor, though he had appeared on records as early as 1944, playing second horn to Dennis Brain in a Decca recording of Brahms' Op. 17 part songs for women's choir, horns and harp, with the Nottingham Oriana Choir and harpist Gwendolyn Mason.  This recording can be heard at the CHARM website.


  1. Many thanks, Bryan. I love Tortelier's (much later) recording of the Walton concerto, and did not know he had recorded this early.

  2. Many thanks for this recording, a splendid performance!