on 13 April 2005
This classic recording is easily my first pick as a Desert Island Disc. There has been no better recording of the Dvorak Cello Concerto than this - it is simply unsurpassable in terms of soloist (Rostropovich at his prime, there is no substitute) and a superb accompaniment from the sublime Berlin Phil, sensitively directed by Karajan. The recording is full of passion and has a number of incredible spine-tingling moments, particularly in the slow movement, and also the lovely duet between solo violin and the soloist in the final movement.
And as if this is not enough, there is also a wonderful recording of the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations - it would be worth buying this CD for this recording alone! Rostropovich is outstanding throughout, combining stunning virtuosity with a great sense of melodic integrity. The orchestral accompaniment in this piece is renowned as being tricky, but Karajan does a fantastic job and the orchestral playing is light and responsive throughout.
This is a fantastic recording that has given me hours and hours of pleasure, and I can't understand why I am the first person to be reviewing it!
on 23 December 2005
Whoever is going to buy this cd will be certainly satisfied with it. It contains an excellent performance of Dvorak cello concerto. However its status as the "best", definitive performance (if ever these kind of statements can make any sense) of this work is certainly excessive. For instance, Rostropovich with Talich is not as sumptuously played but it is certainly more idiomatic. Personally I prefer it. The famous Casals recording is, as cello playing, unmatchable. The pulse and phrasing of Casals are a class apart even for Rostropovich. Du Pre with Celibidache provides such a moving performance which, for all its smoothnes, richness and fullness of sound, the Rostropovich-Karayan cannot match.
on 22 September 2011
I fell in love with this recording the very first time I heard it at a friends house. I was so taken by the piece that I purchased numerous versions,Casals,amongst them. I prefer this recording,but that in no way denegrates the others,all of which were fine.
There's something very special about Rostropovitch,and I couldn't believe my luck when he came to Cardiff many years ago. I'm not sure now if he played this particular work,as he was the conductor of the orchestra.
I sat behind the orchestra,so had a fantastic view of the maestro at work with his baton.
His interaction with the orchestra was a joy to behold,and at the end of the final work he went into the orchestra and hugged most,if not all,of the players. Wonderful man,fantastic cellist.
If you only buy one version of this magical work,you will not be disappointed with this one.
on 14 February 2013
Whenever I view photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, Leibnitz's old question comes to mind: why is there something rather than nothing? True, quantum physics has changed the game somewhat but the philosopher's question retains its forcefulness. And who does not revel in photographs of galaxies with their spiral arms and inter-stellar radiance, besieged as they are by so much nothingness? Die they will but die luminously.
Likewise, I am astounded by the very existence of the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Is it in any way explicable? Who can fully encompass its wonder? To what end does it lavish us with so much radiance like the Pleiades star cluster?
For someone who so loved life, how deftly Dvorak bids farewell. Listen to the cello in the finale (9'27"ff) as it ruminates on the passing spectacle of material things.
Recorded in late September 1968, this is surely one of Karajan's Top Ten Recordings. Everything went right on the day. Rostropovich never made a finer recording. This is the plumb-line as to how the Berlin Philharmonic should sound on any given day. The vintage DG recording is exemplary. Treat the Rococo Variations as the most sybaritic of sweets.
On the Day of his Comeuppance, Herbie will have some explaining to do; Faust should serve as his attorney. Come his defence, this recording could well be Exhibit Number One.
on 23 June 2013
Rostropovitch plays beautifully throughout the recording and the Dvorak concerto is a magnificent piece, one I had managed to overlook for too long. The Tchaikovsky is also played wll but is is, without doubt, a minor work.