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Dvorak: Cello Concerto, Violin Concerto / Susskind, Ricci, Neslova, St. Louis So

Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93260   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Zara NelsovaRuggiero Ricci
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DVO?ÁK Cello Concerto No. 2. Violin Concerto Walter Susskind, cond; Ruggiero Ricci (vn); Zara Nelsova (vc); Saint Louis SO BRILLIANT 93260 (66:10)

Nowhere in the packaging—inside or out—are the dates of these recordings mentioned; they appeared in a quadraphonic, three-LP VoxBox in the mid 1970s, along with one of Firkušný’s many recordings of the Piano Concerto. Nor does Brilliant tell us that all were Aubort/Nickrenz productions once recommended by Read more style="font-style:italic">The Absolute Sound. They remain clean and clear, but some of their life may have been sapped by this transfer. The performances are better than I had remembered; each has some fine moments, but also somewhere the music stalls.

Ricci plays neatly, without the edge that mars some of his performances, but he lacks the warmth needed for Dvo?ák. Susskind’s orchestra produces a decent facsimile of the Czech Philharmonic, but this Concerto requires a consistently inspired performance to succeed, which it does not get here. Ricci’s earlier Decca/London stereo recording with Sargent had more sweetness and light. My version of choice remains the 1960 Suk/An?erl on Supraphon.

This performance of the Cello Concerto has similar qualities: solid, accurate playing by Nelsova, but not much color, even though the solo cello is spotlighted. The orchestra is again excellent in spots; winds and horns are lovely, strings somewhat congested. I like the quick pacing, the Concerto coming home in under 37 minutes, but the emotional warmth that forms much of this Concerto’s raison d’être is in short supply. The clinical recorded sound may be part of the problem; violins fail to soar and ff tutti can be just plain loud. You can’t go wrong with the classic 1954 Rostropovich/Talich mono; for stereo I like Jan Vogler’s 2004 recording with David Robertson on Sony. Both of Yo-Yo Ma’s recordings are sluggish, the Maazel worse than the Masur. These recordings also come in a two-CD Brilliant set with Firkušný’s Dvo?ák Piano Concerto plus the smaller soloist-and-orchestra pieces that filled out the VoxBox. This issue is a strong contender at Brilliant Classics’s low price.

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Cello in A major, B 10 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Zara Nelsova (Cello)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Bohemia 
Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 53 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Ruggiero Ricci (Violin)
Conductor:  Walter Susskind
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879-1880; Bohemia 

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