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Dvorák: Cello Concerto / Bruch: Kol Nidrei / Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8f703a68) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f7d7600) out of 5 stars When the heights become the expected 3 Mar. 2000
By Mark McCue - Published on
Format: Audio CD
There's no reason to go into a long song and dance about Starker and Dorati here--the recordings are so famous and so coveted by collectors on original vinyl, that they're bound to make a perfect CD reissue. And they do.
Starker and Dorati's LSO strings have a thing going here--they match their attacks stylistically in superb ensemble--there's just a little bit of resin, of gut, on strings that give all three works a genuinely Slavic quality that is fascinating.
I don't think any historian would really consider the Bruch a very good work, but Starker and Dorati make it the best it can be. It certainly isn't an embarassment in the company of the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky which are refreshed to the point of renewed consideration of their virtues.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8eff0684) out of 5 stars Starker and Dorati make an impressive partnership 5 July 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Born in Budapest, Janos Starker, who turns 88 today, was a high profile cellist on the concert scene with a considerable catalog of recordings, despite the public dominance of Rostropovich and Du Pre. In the postwar era he was tossed around Europe without fixed citizenship, won a competition, went through t the identity crisis of a former child prodigy, and finally found a roost in America. The Hungarian connection apparently helped, since he got his first job with the Dallas Sym. under Dorati in 1949, quickly moving on to become first cellist at the Metropolitan Opera under Fritz Reiner. Even then he had already begun to make solo recordings.

He and Dorati pair up here, in a program of cello chestnuts, including the almost mandatory pairing of the Dvorak Cto. and the Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme, with Bruch's somber chant, Kol Nidrei, sandwiched in between. The sessions are from London in 1962 and 1964; the sound was too trebly and lacking in bass for the Gramophone reviewer, who was listening to the digital reissue in 1991. I find the same problem in many Mercury Living Presence recordings once they reached the digital age, but quite often others don't complain and even praise the typical Mercury sound for its x-ray detail.

Every cellist has his own style, naturally, and Starker's was not warm and passionate. He had the face of a stage Mephistopheles, and one tended to hear his music-making as cool, somewhat analytical, and always in command. In the Toscanini era such a style was more admired than it might be now, but there is no gainsaying Starker's presence and his impeccable technique. He and Dorati exhibit a close rapport, and for that reason cello and orchestra come across as perfectly harmonious. The two partners also seem invigorated ad engaged.

The Gramophone reviewer praised Starker's Tchaikovsky for its refinement, but he failed to warm to the rest. I didn't expect to, but with such clear sound, complete mastery, and an extra dash of enthusiasm from soloist and conductor, this turned out to be a winning program. Actually, I rarely listen to the Dvorak Cto., which has worn out its welcome over many years, and what made me sit up and take notice was precisely the cleanness and lack of sentiment that Starker favors.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f254f00) out of 5 stars Sometimes one is enough... 6 Jun. 2001
By Howard Grady Brown - Published on
Format: Audio CD
There is a rival to this recording out of Berlin, with Rostropovich playing the cello and von Karajan playing the conductor. Actually, I have the Tschaikovsky part of that disc on a DG twofer that features Slava in a number of works, including the Shostakovich No.2.
But Starker and Dorati are so fine in the Dvorak -- and the Mercury recording is a marvel of clarity and body -- I've been able to pass on to other things, never feeling the need for an alternate view. This disk seems to project Dvorak's view itself, what need for another?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f55ce28) out of 5 stars Hear this! 31 Mar. 2013
By Larry - Published on
I first learned of Janos Starker and the Dvorak Cello Concerto while working in Louisville, KY in the early 1960s. Starker performed with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra performing the Dvorak Concerto. It was one of the greatest performances I have seen before and after that time. It is a pleasure to have the Cello Concerto in my Kindle Fire HD. Thanks Amazon.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f6ea8e8) out of 5 stars Not as positive as others 6 Nov. 2013
By Precession - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Janos Starker was certainly a very great cellist, but I don't feel quite as strongly positive about this performance of the Dvorak Concerto as others. There can be no doubt of Starker's supremacy in the Bach Cello Suites, and his recording of the Schumann Concerto, with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducting, is as good as it gets. He has made at least three recordings of the Dvorak Concerto, and maybe this is the best of them, but I still don't feel he ever found a conductor to partner him who could bring out the best in this work. Antal Dorati is a very efficient conductor but doesn't quite feel the pulse of Dvorak's music, and wrecks the final bars of the first movement by an sudden unmarked speeding up. Roughly contemporary with this recording was the one by Pierre Fournier and the Berlin Philharmonic with George Szell conducting - to me that has the rightness of idiom that this one lacks. And several other cellists and conductors too seem to me to have the edge on Starker and Dorati in this work - Raphael Wallfisch and Charles Mackerras, Josef Chuchro and Jiri Waldhans, Jan Vogler and David Robertson.

As top recommendation I would say - Starker for Schumann, Fournier for Dvorak.
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