This fine recording of Dvorák's Cello Concerto by Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey with Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer leading the Budapest Festival Orchestra is as generous, honest, and compelling as the music itself. Wispelwey has a rich, ringing tone that can ride over orchestral tutti fortes yet still sound fully present in intimate pianissimos. He also has an elegant technique that can accomplish anything the work asks without calling undue attention to itself. These qualities allow him to lean into the work's powerful drama and aching lyricism without dividing his attention. The commanding Fischer leads the rich-toned Budapest Festival Orchestra in an accompaniment as musically interesting and dramatically significant as the solo part. As a coupling, Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra turn in a performance of Dvorák's infrequently programmed Symphonic Variations; it is as shapely as the venerable István Kertész account with the London Symphony. Recorded at a concert in Budapest's Palace of Arts in 2006, Channel Classics' super audio digital sound is extremely vivid and immediate. Though one might reasonably argue the considerable merits of the Casals/Szell or Rostropovich/Karajan recordings, for combination of performance and sound, this Wispelwey/Fischer recording could be the only one anyone would ever need.
Dvorák: Concerto for Cello & Orchestra; Symphonic Variations Review
by James Leonard