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Schumann: Cello Concerto

Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello); Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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3.0 out of 5 stars Bad remasterization March 22 2003
Format:Audio CD
Bad remastering
Any recording that bears Mr Rostropovich's name will make me spring to attention, but this time - sorry. Mr Rostropovich's accompanying explanation (see page 4 of the accompanying leaflet) for the cavalry-charge tempo of Dvorak's concerto (it was performed, by him and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under Svetlanov's directorship, on the same day (August 21, 1968) as the soviet invasion of Praga) under stress for an initially hostile reception of the public, may have been a good reason on the occasion, but no longer. One has a right to value for one's money - unless the buyer is a buff who wants to have a complete collection of different recordings of the same piece - and this performance is not par with the otherwise standard of excellency of both soloist and orchestra. For instance, the poignancy of the second movement is completely lost. Hadn't I known what I was listening to, I might not have recognized the concert. The normal duration of Dvorak's concerto is, actually, 38 minutes - such as here (or so, at least, my extensive reference book about symphonic music tells me) and it's the same in another CD I have of it. The rub rather seems to lie, herein,in the re-masterization of pieces performed respectively 42 (Schumann's) and 35 (Dvorak's and Tchaikowsky's) years ago: it is simply not up to present standards. The warning that this whole CD is a remasterization of so long-past performances should have accompanied the presentation on the detail page for it in the Amazon[.com] Website where, instead, it appears as a February 2003 recording. So, it's two stars less for this reason, and the other three just as an homage to the glorious career and standing of such a soloist, an orchestra and a conductor.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crying standing ovation July 11 2010
By Chris Farley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This Royal Albert Hall concert where Rostropovich played the Dvorak concerto is the most memorable of my life. I was there. You could cut the tension with a knife. With his beautiful playing he built a immediate bond with the audience
that said "we are your side, we agree with you ..." something he and the orchestra were unable to say in public verbally. A rare, wonderful example of deep sentiment being communicated through music without words needing to be spoken. Incredible. At the end he received a crying, standing ovation that one cannot see on the audio. Believe me, everyone was crying.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two historical moments caught with the great Rostropovich at the epicenter March 15 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The fact that the USSR State Sym. was touring the UK in the summer of 1968 became a hot-button issue when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. Despite tensions with the public outside the halls, Svetlanov was inspired to fiery (defiant?) performances -- BBC Legends has also released a tremendous account of Tchaikovsky's "Polish" Sym. from the same tour. Here we get the Dvorak Cello Cto. with Rostropovich, a nostalgic work that suddenly acquired violent overtones by being Czech and also by the suspicion that a Soviet loyalist like Svetlanov was part of a PR campaign by the Russians to soften the impact of the invasion.

Rostropovich was no apparatchik, however, and it may be, as an earlier reviewer says, that he was showing solidarity with the freedom movement by playing with such urgency and passion. This is a one-off reading, even for a figure who was larger than life in untroubled times. But the avidly curious will have to settle for an in-house tape -- i.e., a recording made on the sly by an audience member -- which is in pretty basic mono. The audience member must have been standing close to the stage (at the summer Proms concerts, the entire floor of Royal Albert Hall is reserved for standees -- because the focus is on the instruments near the front, in particular the cello and the woodwinds. A heckler emits a shout at the onset, before the music begins, and the crowd rustles in response. Otherwise, the unease of the occasion isn't that prominent in the performance, as much as the performers felt it personally. There are many touches of inspiration on Rostropovich's part, once you get past the basic sound quality. The Gramophone reviewer sums the event up touchingly: "It is the cellist, already in tears, whose transparently honest playing wins the audience over."

first on this CD comes the Schumann concerto led by Benjamin Britten in 1961, the venue being a church in the seaside town of Aldeburgh where he started his famous, still continuing music festival. This was Rostropovich's first appearance there, and as we know, he and Britten became great friends and allies, with the composer even going on a tour of Russia to perform; he later wrote his Cello Symphony and various solo works for Rostropovich, the cellist who inspired more composers than any other in history, I would suppose. The reading is sensitive and thoroughly engaging, although the cello is artificially miked to sound bigger than the orchestra. Taken together with the Dvorak, this becomes part of a true historical document, so technical considerations are beside the point in the end.
2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad remasterization March 22 2003
By Jorge Yuri - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Bad remastering
Any recording that bears Mr Rostropovich's name will make me spring to attention, but this time - sorry. Mr Rostropovich's accompanying explanation (see page 4 of the accompanying leaflet) for the cavalry-charge tempo of Dvorak's concerto (it was performed, by him and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under Svetlanov's directorship, on the same day (August 21, 1968) as the soviet invasion of Praga) under stress for an initially hostile reception of the public, may have been a good reason on the occasion, but no longer. One has a right to value for one's money - unless the buyer is a buff who wants to have a complete collection of different recordings of the same piece - and this performance is not par with the otherwise standard of excellency of both soloist and orchestra. For instance, the poignancy of the second movement is completely lost. Hadn't I known what I was listening to, I might not have recognized the concert. The normal duration of Dvorak's concerto is, actually, 38 minutes - such as here (or so, at least, my extensive reference book about symphonic music tells me) and it's the same in another CD I have of it. The rub rather seems to lie, herein,in the re-masterization of pieces performed respectively 42 (Schumann's) and 35 (Dvorak's and Tchaikowsky's) years ago: it is simply not up to present standards. The warning that this whole CD is a remasterization of so long-past performances should have accompanied the presentation on the detail page for it in the Amazon[.com] Website where, instead, it appears as a February 2003 recording. So, it's two stars less for this reason, and the other three just as an homage to the glorious career and standing of such a soloist, an orchestra and a conductor.
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