Pablo Casals

Pablo Casals

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While there have been superb recordings of Dvorák's masterful Cello Concerto since the war -- one thinks immediately of the Rostropovich/Talich recording -- the greatest recording of the work may well be this 1937 recording by Pablo Casals with George Szell leading the Czech Philharmonic. Because while later cellists may have a more polished technique or a more burnished tone, none of them can match Casals in intensity of expression and authenticity of interpretation. While listening to Rostropovich or his successors, one may be impressed by their interpretations, but one is always aware that they are interpretations. With Casals, the whole sense of an interpreter disappears and one is left only with Dvorák's passionate and unmediated music. With the young and feisty George Szell on the podium and the sweet and soulful Czech Philharmonic in the pit, Casals has the finest and most idiomatic accompanist possible. And with Casals' brilliant and beautiful 1936 recording of Beethoven's Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 102/1, with Mieczyslaw Horszowski as a filler, this disc can hardly be beat. Except, of course, that actual sound of the disc is so small, cramped, and dingy that the music is hardly audible. Almost any other incarnation of these magnificent recordings is preferable to this one.

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