Frantisek Maxian / Mstislav Rostropovich / Vaclav Talich

Dvorák: Piano & Cello Concertos

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On one end of the continuum, there is Dvorák's Concerto in B minor for cello and orchestra, a composition that is among the composer's best known and has become a cornerstone of the instrument's repertoire. On the other end, the Piano Concerto in G minor, a work that had difficulty garnering acceptance even during the composer's lifetime and is still looked upon with less favor than other concertos written in the same period. So important is Cello Concerto than many prominent artists, like Mstislav Rostropovich, have recorded it many times during their careers. Here, too, there is a continuum, from the brash, youthful vitality found in early recordings (e.g., with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Adrian Boult) up through the more seasoned, mature recordings made with the likes of the Berlin Philharmonic and Karajan. This Regis album, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Vaclav Talich, lies somewhere in the middle. Here, Rostropovich is highly focused on producing long, legato lines. Some listeners will find that this goes a bit too far; Rostropovich's tempos, particularly in the outer movements, are uncharacteristically slow and deliberate, interspersed with brief bursts of speed and frenzy. While this makes for an interesting take on the concerto, this is perhaps not the master's most universally appealing take. Frantisek Maxian's interpretation of the much earlier Piano Concerto is much more evenly paced and driven. Though the piano is sometimes obscured by the orchestra, Maxian's vigorous playing makes for an exciting rendition of this sometimes sleepy concerto.

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