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A mastercellist performs masterworks
on 30 June 2009
For the reader with an appreciation of classical music and a bent for the cello, this is a dream two CD compilation.
The rationale for the compilation appears on the cover and in the body of the liner note:the compilation comprises legendary recordings by the mastercellist Mstislav Rostropovich between the years 1956 and 1978 and was released to commemorate the 75th birthday anniversary of the artist.
The first disc concerns orchestral works while the second chamber music specifically works for cello and piano, in some instances transcriptions. And though invariably all pieces in both discs possess a gem like quality, I shall confine the argument to the Dvorak and the Schumann cello concertos and the Rachmaninov sonata for piano and cello.
The first disc commences with the Dvorak cello concerto with which I shall begin the discussion. The Dvorak is a magnificent piece of work but in this instance there is something of a benign conspiracy or a small miracle in that the artist performs with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Herbert von Karajan and not only that but at a time that cellist, conductor and orchestra were at their peak. Of the many recordings of the Dvorak by the artist this is arguably the best but I shall go even further than that and argue that this is possibly the best recording of the work of all times. The Dvorak is immediately followed in the disc by the Schumann which is similarly the best of the cellist's many recordings of the work. There is something of a poetic quality in the Schumann which finds its full expression in the hands of the rare artistic talent of Rostropovich. The first work in the second disc is Rachmaninov's sonata for cello and piano. I feel that I can only do justice to this work by quoting from the liner note:"We hear them (Mstislav Rostropovich and Alexander Dedyukin)first playing the sonata that Sergei Rachmaninov wrote for Brandukov in 1901, a gorgeous work laid out on a lavish scale (almost 32 minutes long) with melody following melody in an almost profligate profusion. Rostropovich has recorded the work complete only once and, despite the close acoustic and the backward balance accorded Dedyukin, it is an overwhelming performance, allowing the themes to blossom without becoming self-indulgent."
Finally , I urge the reader to complement the delight derived from listening to the sublime music by reading the liner note which is profoundly insightful, knowledgeable, sensitive and humane. The reader will be exposed to the musical family of the artist extending to both maternal and paternal grandparents, father and uncle, his prodigal abilities, his being also an accomplished pianist and conductor but importantly for becoming familiar with the high moral stature of the artist.