Because of his association with Martha Argerich and his own great talents, Mischa Maisky has made dozens of high profile recordings, and with the recent passing of Rostropovich, he bids fair to be the superstar cellist one thinks of right behind Yo-Yo Ma. This pairing of the Dvorak concerto and Don Quixote came out in 2004, but it didn't turn into a high-profile release. It's easy to see why. Given the cello's limited solo repertoire with orchestra, the competition couldn't be more intense.
Even so, this is a wonderful release, in no small part because of the great Berlin players and the lavish sound from DG's engineers. I have never heard a warmer-sounding recording, and it's a joy to catch the nuances of Maisky's tone. He is a musician of touch rather htan force or charisma (compared, that is, to Rostropovich and De Pre), which is all to the good in the Dvorak. Warhorses must be revived with fresh phrasing and new insights, and Maisky brings both. Mehta offers discreet accompaniment, choosing not to go too symphonic.
Because the conductor carries much greater weight in Don Quixote, Mehta's so-so interpretation, which starts out too calm and mostly stays that way, can't stand up to Karajan or Kempe. The saving grace is the recorded soun and the Berliners, as before. But violist Tabea Zimmermann equals Maisky in musicality, so once they enter, the picture brightens. Maisky is somewhat more romantic and yielding than Ma with Maazel, but you can still tell that this is a cool, modernist reading. Here, Quixote speaks in mutters and sighs that are uncannily human. Fortunatley, the death of Quixote is played wth very touching gentleness. In all, this CD shouldn't be allowed to fall between the cracks -- it's very satisfying.