This version of the Dvorak concerto was recommended by the recent Radio 3 Building a Library as preferred by the (Czech) reviewer. I decided on that basis to buy, having listened to his detailed critique.
Fournier was highly regarded in my youth, and this recording confirms his mastery. Though George Szell is not the most obvious accompanist, this is a most satisfactory performance.
Fournier allows himself a little portamento in appropriate places, which is now perhaps unfashionable. He is also discreet in his use of vibrato, which is welcome, too. He is placed well forward on the sound-stage, perhaps rather more than is realistic, but I'm not complaining about that!
The recordings (three different conductors) are warm, full and clear, though there are occasional (slight) signs of congestion in tutti passages, probably inevitable with analogue recordings.
Schelomo (Solomon) is probably least well-known, though Bloch enjoyed a certain fashion in the fifties. It is, though, a satisfying piece, beautifully played.
Bruch's Kol Nidrei needs no recommendation, though my preferred performance remains the pre-war and completely over-the-top version by Suggia. Fournier, far more classical in his approach than Sra. Suggia, gives a very fine account, nevertheless, and has the benefit of a relatively modern recording
Altogether a classic recording from the early golden age of analogue stereo (1960s). Highly recommended for both performance and sound.
Three profoundly moving works featuring the cellist Pierre Fournier. For the Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor op. 104, he performs with the Berliner Philharmonic, conducted by George Szell. This is a popular work, so there are many interpretations available, but what makes this one worth listening to is that it was recorded in analogue, and then transferred to digital. This gives it, in my opinion, a richer, warmer sound which is particularly noticeable in the final movement when the cello drives towards its thundering climax.
The second work, Schelomo, by Ernest Bloch (1880 - 1959) is one with which I was not familiar. It is a dark, quite melancholy work, filled with interesting tonal variations. The third and final work is currently popular on radio stations playing classical music - Max Bruch's hauntingly beautiful Kol Nidrei, an adagio based on Hebrew melodies. Again, the warm sounds of the original analogue recording give this an added dimension. The slow, measured pace of the piece, with its occasionally soaring higher notes can, on occasions, move the listener to tears.
All in all, three superb cello works which are complex enough to withstand hearing again, and again, and again.
Like other purchasers who have reviewed this disc here, I bought it on the reccomendation of the recent BBC Radio 3 "Building A Library" programme in which the presenter selected this disc as his generally top recommendation. It goes to prove how many such things are actually subjective - and often a matter of personal taste. Although such matters as technical precision and being truthful to the composer's directions etc. are more easily identifiable, matters regarding interpretation are of course much more debatable. Personally, although this is a very generously filled and budget-priced disc, I would regard the performance of the main work on the disc for which most would obviously purchase it -the Dvorak concerto- as no more than generallly 'good'. Here, Fournier -though technically accomplished and with fine tone- to my ears does not in reality get to the 'soul' of this great concerto. To cite just one or two instances, he does not really modify either his tone-colour or tempo appropriately to do real justice to the gorgeous second-subject of the first movement, -merely ploughing on in a thoroughly dissapointing manner. He then scurries on at break-neck speed, which once again does not to my ears genuinely thrill. Unfortunately, the du Pres/Barenboim recording -though undeniably both exciting and emotionally tense - is in reality more than a little course and rough in places, and du Pres' tone is certainly not flatteringly recorded. For a more general and solid recommendation, I would therefore still opt for the Rostropovich/Karajan performance, -which is also at budget price. Although the recording does not do full justice to Rostropvich's glowing tone, it still remains -to my ears- a most magnificent and moving performance.