- Conductor: Daniel Harding
- Composer: Antonín Dvoák
- Audio CD (30 Sept. 2013)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Hyperion
- ASIN: B00DW7OQ7G
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,872 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Dvorak: Cello Concertos [Steven Isserlis, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Harding] [Hyperion: CDA67917]
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Hyperion is delighted to present the world's best-loved cello concerto performed by one of the world's best-loved cellists: national treasure Steven Isserlis. Isserlis has waited 40 years to record this pinnacle of the repertoire, and here with his regular collaborators, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Daniel Harding, this long gestation has proved to be overwhelmingly fruitful. Isserlis writes of the concerto that 'the power of its emotional journey, expressed with Dvorák's characteristically folk-like simplicity and directness, offers an irresistible mix of the epic and the touchingly confessional'. The combination of emotional power and simplicity is also a feature of Isserlis's playing, and part of what makes him such a consummate performer of this work.
This album puts Dvorák's B minor cello concerto in context, including not only the original ending, but an orchestral version of the song Lasst mich allein which is quoted in the concerto's second and third movements.
Isserlis has also recorded a version of Dvorák's first cello concerto, a little-known work from the composer's early period which he never orchestrated. This version (in what is almost definitely its premiere recording) is by German composer Günter Raphael, whose works were performed by Furtwängler among others, and is extensively rewritten from the composer's original. To turn to Isserlis's own words again: 'Of course, it is not a masterpiece on the level of the later B minor concerto; but is it fair to lock up an older child just because their younger sibling is a genius? I love the A major concerto for the beauty of its melodies, for the freshness of its inspiration, for its typically rustic spiritand for the sense of sheer joy that bubbles through the entire work.'
This is one of the most exciting performances of recent years. BBC music orchestral choice Performance ***** recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, Nov'13
I was immediately struck by the dark-toned nobility of Isserlis's sound, and his assurance in passages, particularly in the first movement, that produce audible stress in many other players.Given the bonus of big, bold and warm sound from the engineering team, this recording should leave those who acquire it with no regrets. --IRR, Oct'13
Isserlis achieves a vast emotional impact not only with his intensity of tone, but often, too, with its purity, directness and subtlety. ***** --Sinfini Music, 18/10/13
Isserlis is on spellbindingly eloquent form in an entrancing poetic and urgently communicative reading that really does sound like it s being captured on the wing. GRAMOPHONE CHOICE --Gramophone, Oct'13
Top Customer Reviews
Isserlis is drawn to what he describes as the 'irresistible mix of the epic and the touchingly confessional' in the B minor Concerto. Those are precisely the qualities he brings out in this new recording. Valiant when required, he also shows the work's more retiring side, creating whispered dialogues with the woodwind in the second movement cadenza and great rocking camaraderie with the heaven-bound violin solo in the Finale.
Having zoomed in and out of these intimate scenes, Isserlis promptly commands the listener's attention with a truly lustrous forte. Occasionally you feel the cello might be too prominent in the mix, placed not within but in front of the orchestra and thereby forcing them to take a back seat. We lose a little clarity too, but these are minor quibbles, easily overlooked when the playing, both from Isserlis and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra is so superb.
Harding takes a slightly more direct approach with the piece than Isserlis, as if the former were the level-headed brother of the latter, yet there is much to enjoy within the collaboration. The peaceful passivity of the chorale textures Harding elicits in the slow movement are particularly ravishing.Read more ›
Playing is uniformly very good from orchestra and soloist - yes it was worth the wait.
For me things are slightly marred by the balance between the soloist and the orchestra. The cello doesn't have a massive sound but in some passages you can barely hear the orchestra because the cello is so forward in the mix. For me a great recording is when the balance is like the best concert hall in the world - it doesn't do solists any favours to ruin the dialogue between the solo instrument and orchestral instruments by making the soloist too dominant.
It is certainly good to have such a fresh and individual interpretion of this truly magnificent and famous concerto, with the usual high production values from "Hyperion" -and with booklet notes on the music by Isserlis himself.
His first entry is incisive, bold and dramatic -which sets the tone generally for much of his interpretation of the concerto throughout. It goes without saying that his technique is well up to the demands of all the music.
However,whether this new recording goes quite up to the very 'top of the tree' compared with one or two stalwart 'classics' in the catalogues is of course perhaps much a question -as always- of personal taste and view.
I note the comments of the 4-star reviewer regarding the quality of the recording favouring the orchestra at the expense of the solo cello.
However, I personally find that the recording of the B minor concerto is (unusually for Hyperion, and perhaps due to the particular venue) slightly 'muddy' in its recording of Isselis as well. It does in places obscure the detail (e.g.in such passages as the scurrying multi-stopped triplets toward the end of the 1st movement) in a manner that the ear just cannot hear even the rhythm of the notes, and such passages therefore pass by in a frenetic blur.
This slight lack of clarity and transparency does also lose some of beautiful line Isselis draws out -such as in the lachrymose 2nd theme of the first movement; when he softens the sound, or occasionally when the line descends, it is not always clear where the music is going.Read more ›
Steven Isserlis who was born in 1958 has produced magnificent performances of all pieces recorded. The two cello concertos are absolute masterpieces. The B minor cello concerto which chronologically is second is arguably the most
popular cello concerto ever written. I have numerous performances of this magnificient piece both on CD and DVD with soloists such as Fournier, Rostropovich, Du Prey, Sadlo amongst others and I can honestly say Isserlis's performance is right up there amongst those other world renowned performances.
I think it is important to focus for a moment on the two concertos. The A Major Cello Concerto No 1 was composed by Dvorak in 1865 with the cello accompanied by a piano taking the place of the orchestra. It lasts almost an hour. The orchestration of the A Major Concerto came later firstly by the German composer Gunter Raphael in the mid 1920's. This rendition is somewhat freer with the intended hope that it would be closer to what Dvorak may have written had he returned to it for completion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An exceptionally beautiful, heartfelt & technically brilliant performance by Isserlis of Dvorak's sublime B minor Cello Concerto. The A major Cello Concerto is a further bonus. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Dr. John Stanley
I agree with DJRD74's comment, this is a fairly good recording of the Dvorak but not good enough to be considered excellent, let alone the "best ever". Read morePublished on 5 April 2014 by Mikicellist1975
An enjoyable performance. It came well packed and it arrived on time, just as you had predicted. I am happy with this purchasePublished on 8 Nov. 2013 by Dr Gwilym Hughes
This disc has been long awaited . Isserlis has been a recording artist for 20 years or more yet he has waited until now to record the Dvorak Cello Concerto - one of the twin peaks... Read morePublished on 27 Oct. 2013 by Music fan
It was highly reviewed in the press and rightly so. A great recording and a valuable addition to anybody's classical collectionPublished on 23 Oct. 2013 by Barry
Recording a masterpiece like the Dvorak cello concertos is a huge project and anyone who embarks on such a journey has my respect and admiration. Read morePublished on 14 Oct. 2013 by DJRD74