Merk: Valses Brillantes (Variations & Rondo/ Fleurs) (Martin Rummel, Roland Krüger) (Naxos: 8.572759)
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was the most outstanding cellist in Vienna in the first half of the nineteenth century. Although Beethoven's Triple Concerto
was not originally written for him, Merk's performances established it as an important work, and he was the dedicatee of Chopin's Introduction et Polonaise brillante
. He was also a formidable composer for his own instrument, creating a dazzling series of instrumental episodes in his Fleurs d'Italie
, based on operatic motifs by Donizetti and Verdi. The Valses brillantes
bridge the gap, in classic virtuoso fashion, between Schubert's piano dances and Johann Strauss the Elder's grand gestures.