Who should listen to the performances made by cellist Pablo Casals on this four-disc set of recordings from the late '20s and early '30s?
Pretty much anybody who hasn't already heard them, that's who. With his muscular technique, singing tone, and immense soulfulness, Casals was beyond all argument the greatest cellist of the first half of the twentieth century and these recordings come as close to being definitive as any recording can come. Listen to Casals' 1930 recording of the Allegro ma non tanto from Beethoven's A major Sonata with pianist Otto Schulhof, to the ease of technique, the depth of tone, and the unfathomable profundity. Listen to Casals' 1937 recording of the Allegro from Dvorák's Cello Concerto with George Szell conducting the Czech Philharmonic, to the power of technique, the strength of tone and the affecting humanity. Listen to Casals' 1929 recording of the Andante from Brahms' Double Concerto with violinist Jacques Thibaud and Alfred Cortot conducting the Pablo Casals Orchestra of Barcelona; to the unanimity between Casals and Thibaud; to the sympathy between Casals, Thibaud, and Cortot; and especially to the wholeness of concept between the soloists and orchestra. This is playing of the highest order and few cellists have ever equaled much less surpassed it. Pearl's sound is clean and clear but shows its age in surface noise and restricted dynamics.