Great Russian soloists, great conductor, and now much better
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So far as I know, Rostropovich and Richter recorded a total of only five pieces with Karajan, and all are great performances (the other three works, besides the two here, are Strauss Don Quixote, Dvorak Cello Cto., and Beethoven Triple Cto.). Here we get Richter's 1963 Tchaikovksy First Concrto in much better sound than ever before. The performance has lived in the shadow of its disc-mate, the Rachmaninov Second under Rowicki, whenever DG has issued it before. The Tachmaninov is in a class of its own, but Richter's very personal interpreation of the Tchaikovsky is equally breathtaking -- I've never understood why critics diss it, perhaps becasue the pianist, despite his massive technqiue, didn't choose to pull out the stops in the finale a la Horowitz. The new remastering makes orchestra nad piano sound up to date.
The Rococo Variation was also a filler of sorts to Rostropovich's acclaimed and nearly definitive Dvorak Cello Concerto. Critics have had nothing but praise for this performance, but I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to buy a CD based on what is a leser work of Tchaikovsky's -- cellists, who lack for central repertoire, keep it alive. The new remastering is good, but the original 1968 analog LP was good to begin with (it won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1969.)
Note" The 2008 release date reflects a large batch of Karajan discs being remastered in commemoration of the eminent conductor."