Dvorak has been recorded by every great, and dozens of competent cellists, orchestras and conductors. Wallfisch is not my idea of a great cellist. Neither is Mackerras, as a conductor (despite being my countryman). This is admitting that in some kinds of repertoire, they bring outstanding insights into their work. Mackerras might qualify as the outstanding Janacek interpreter of recent times; and Wallfisch has done notable work with English cello music. The disparity I've alluded to runs right through the middle of this album.
Dvorak's orchestra is well served by Mackerras, and exceptionally well recorded. Despite his affinities for Janacek, I do not find a matching affinity for Dvorak. Mackerras is highly competent in the technical aspect of the music; but his rhythms tend to be hard, his general approach is brassy and he overloads climaxes. The cellist has, by comparison, a rather soft-grained tone and at times he struggles to make himself heard in the more boisterous passages. Wallfisch excels in the presentations of the melodious episodes rather more than in the strenuous, virtuosic passages. I'm not suggesting that this is a performance that cannot stand up to the competition in the middle of the roster of recordings; but one could scarcely say it reaches for the stars in the way that Rostropovich can do. Nor is it deeply and emotionally committed as e.g. Piatigorsky; nor does it have the gutsy bravura of Tortelier, to name just a few artists whose names figure in the upper echelons of Dvorak readings of more recent times. It is wholly satisfactory, nevertheless; and if (like me) you collect recordings of great music for many perspectives, this will do very well - even if, perhaps, only for the occasional audition that helps put the truly great readings into their own class!
Matters are different with the Dohnanyi concerto. This has not been well served by the recording industry. For years, Starker's EMI recording held the field, even though it had cuts that made a mess of the work (and if I remember rightly, the sleeve notes did not inform you that it was truncated). Starker re-recorded the work a few years ago in Seattle: a very good, though hardly brilliant issue. This is where Wallfisch and Mackerras really score. They rise to the challenge of putting at last an outstanding recording on the map; and the brilliant sound also helps. Maybe the work is not of the highest calibre; but it is tuneful, brilliant and dramatic in its own right - somewhat reminiscent of d'Albert's concerto, which is also rarely performed for no good reason at all.
Much will depend on the coupling, of course. But I suggest to you that this album is almost worth buying for the Dohnanyi alone. That's how I see it: and I take the Dvorak as the "fill-up", rather than the other way around. But this is a decision only you can make for yourself!