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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Dvorak: Cello Concerto
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£11.91+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 24 February 2017
This disc, recorded in 1962 (Dvorak and Bruch), and 1964 (Tchaikovsky), is a fine example of the advantages that recordings of that vintage have if they were recorded in three tracks and are played back on modern SACD capable systems. For those without that facility, being a hybrid disc, there is the option to playback in stereo. Janos Starker was a solo cellist of considerable repute with an absolutely rock steady technique and musical integrity that enables him to play his chosen repertoire with total empathy.

The three pieces on this disc are all secure pillars of the cello repertoire with the Dvorak being arguably collectors’ favourite cello concerto even when those by Elgar, Walton and Shostakovich are considered. This recording of the Dvorak concerto follows absolutely traditional lines and expectations with tempi, phrasing and dynamics conforming to expectations. Dorati ensures that not a single opportunity for dialogue is overlooked and is fully alive to the various dramatic opportunities. If all of this seems a little dull and lacking in character then those suspicions can readily be countered by the assertion that, instead of dullness, the very same security within a central concept of the work actually leads to a high degree of complete musical satisfaction.

The central item, Kol Nidrei by Bruch, while still being a fairly familiar piece today, seems to have fallen out of grace somewhat since the sleeve notes were written. These suggest that it matches Bruch’s 1st Violin concerto in terms of being known to the general public. That may be true when considered as a pair of known pieces by Bruch but there is nevertheless a huge gulf in their relative levels of popularity. However, regardless of those relative merits, this remains a most attractive Adagio and Starker plays it as well as could be expected. It leads very nicely onto the final piece, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations.

Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations is a popular member of the regular cello repertoire and receives yet another satisfyingly traditional performance by Starker. The finale is perhaps, the most distinctive part of this recording being taken at a notably lively pace, once again with complete security. Dorati is the perfect conductor for this as he has a naturally lively approach to his conducting style and is not one to miss any opportunity for dramatic excitement. Otherwise all is as one would expect.

If all of this seems damning with faint praise, the reverse is actually the case. The sum total of this disc being an uncommonly satisfying collection of core repertoire played to perfection and given an equally satisfying SACD three channel sound-stage.
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on 11 February 2015
Utterly captivating performance by Starker and the LSO, and it's hard to believe that this recording is over 50 years old. The disc contains three separate versions, a CD layer as originally issued in the 1990s and two newly remastered (circa 2006) DSD versions on the SACD layer in stereo and 3 channel respectively. Compared to the roughly contemporary EMI recording of Jaqueline du Pre and the Chicago SO from their CD box set of Du Pre's recordings, which has long been a favourite of mine, the sound quality is in a different league even for the original CD transfer. The DSD versions, particularly the 3 channel one, give even greater clarity and better stereo imaging. (I should say though that EMI's own remastered SACDs of Du Pre's Elgar and Delius cello concertos are also excellent). I could detect no hint of the background hiss reported by one other reviewer, on any of the versions though there may be some slight traces of audience noise- I believe these were live recordings. On first hearing I thought the orchestral accompaniment just a little over-bright, especially in the first movement, and a little too prominent at the expense of the solo parts. But on further listening those first impressions have faded and it now sounds just right to me with all parts being heard clearly. Starker's interpretation is rather more austere than Du Pre's with less ornamentation but wonderful precision and delicacy - and passion too, though tightly controlled. One to treasure.
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on 15 February 2010
A sparkling version of this wonderful concerto. Starker may not be as well known as Rostropovich but this version is in my opinion clearer and more musical than the russians famous one with Karajan conducting. It's faster and more solid in every movement which I feel demonstates Dvoraks music unsentimentally. Dorati and the LSO are in fine voice being precise and playing with bravura. The fillers are excellent as well.
The recording is brilliant pinpoint accuracy of the entire orchestra means the clarity is first class but the ambience is not lost either. Considering this was recorded 48 years ago I suggest a blindfold test with a newer recording just to show the quality of the engineering. If you have a sacd player or an earlier ps3 then try this as it's the first time the 3 channels originally recorded have been utilised. I would go further and say almost all the Mercury Living Presence cds are amazing recordings a real testimony to the abilities of the recording engineers in bygone days. Even in normal stereo this is well worth getting.
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on 3 June 2011
The title says it all. If you don't mind the 'very old recording'-style hissing background noise - go ahead. The recording is not muffled or anything - it is very bright and detailed, but this noise, although very very subtle, is getting on my nerves.
And no, this is not a fault in my stereo setup - this kind of background noise cannot be heard on any of my modern-day recordings no matter how high the volume is.
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on 13 August 2009
Released in Britain originally by Polygram in 1994, this Mercury Living Presence recording of Dvorak's Cello conc in B minor was deleted fairly soon thereafter. I had a copy but lost it.When I found it was available from Amazon I ordered it again and was overjoyed when it arrived.Cranking the volume up, I lay on my bed and allowed myself to be absorbed by this most wonderful recording. Janos Starker deserves far more recognition than he gets- he is certainly on a par with Rostropovich in terms of style and interpretation. The glissando in the concerto's first movement is seamless and peerless. No-one beats Du Pre when it comes to Elgar and no-one, in my opinion, beats Starker (not even the great Russian virtuoso himself)when it comes to Dvorak's glorious cello concerto.
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on 19 July 2012
Not until very recently, when I bought the new Mercury 'The Collector's Edition' boxed set, did I at last appreciate the Dvorak cello concerto as the masterpiece I knew it was but never felt it was.I love Dvorak and I have lived with his cello concerto for decades but not until now have I really got to grips with it.
What more can I say?
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on 1 September 2015
Quite a nice recording. Some poor tuning and occasional dobtfull entries. Cello solo well played but disagreed with some of the entries and interpretation.
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