Dvorak: Cello Concerto / Reger: Suite / Francaix: Fantasy (CD)
Anja Heidi Thauer was born on 3rd July 1945 in the old Hanseatic port of Lubeck. She had her early music lessons in Braunschweig, some 160 miles to the south and grew up in Erlangen, attending the Conservatory in nearby Nuremberg. Friends spoke of a lonely childhood and a strict, domineering, even exploitative mother. Anja played violin-and-cello duets with her mother in public at twelve, performed the Boccherini-Grutzmacher B flat Concerto at her orchestral debut in Baden-Baden, aged thirteen and at fourteen entered Ludwig Hoelscher's Stuttgart Hochschule masterclass: he was the leading German cellist, a somewhat old-fashioned player but a profound musician.
At fifteen she went to the Paris Conservatoire on a scholarship, to study with Andre Navarra and also took a course at the Ecole Normale. In 1962, against strong competition from 21 other Paris Conservatoire students, she won the Grand Prix. She was friends with the pianist Claude Francaix and her playing of the 'Fantaisie' by Claude' famous father, Jean Francaix, had so impressed the pianist-composer that he accompanied her in the final concert; his music became one of her strongest suits and she recorded the work some years later, coupling it with Reger's Third Suite for solo cello. At this stage many fellow students thought her a better player than Du Pre who studied briefly in Paris with Paul Tortelier around the same time.
In Prague, in March 1968, she made the DG recording which makes up the rest of this reissue and for which she is best remembered, the Dvorak Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic under 32-year-old ZdenÄk Macal. It was a version praised by The Gramophone's Trevor Harvey upon its first appearance, not only for Thauer's expressive playing but for the many felicities in Dvorak's score so often overlooked in performances of the work. Thauer's discography is far from large but it is mostly of top quality and these three interpretations are central to it.
Tully Potter provides the insightful liner notes for this release, marking the first international release on CD of Anja Thauer's Deutsche Grammophon recordings.
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Anja Thauer, cello
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Suite in A minor for Solo Cello, Op. 131c No. 3
Fantaisie pour violoncelle et piano
Anja Thauer, cello
Jean Françaix, piano