Top positive review
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An uncommonly satisfying collection of core repertoire played to perfection & given in equally satisfying SACD 3 channel sound
on 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.