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Dvorak, Elgar: Cello Concertos / Casals, Szell, Boult

Release Date: 01/25/2005 
Label:  Emi Great Artists Of The Century Catalog #: 62953   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Antonín DvorákSir Edward ElgarMax Bruch
Performer:  Pablo Casals
Conductor:  George SzellSir Adrian BoultLandon Ronald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic OrchestraBBC Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It scarcely seems necessary to write anything further about Casals's famous recordings of the Dvorák and Elgar concertos, which have long been recognized as classics of the recorded repertoire. The former, hailed in Grove V as "destined to mark a standard for generations" and described at the time as "seemingly played with a sword rather than a bow", still exercises a powerful effect: the incandescent solo playing is so mesmeric that one can accept the rather harsh and dry orchestral sound which betrays its age (from 1937). Some of Casals's passionate quality may have been due to his decision to break Out of his self-imposed restricted activities caused by the Spanish civil war: the astute Fred Gaisberg, hearing Read more that he had consented to appear with Szell in Prague, swung into action and talked them into making a recording the day after the concert. Casals allowed himself to be persuaded the more readily since the only concertos he had previously recorded were the Boccherini/Grützmacher and the Brahms Double with his old friend Thibaud. Kol nidrei had been a fill-up to that Boccherini issue: it is a quietly eloquent, broad reading of this meditation, adroitly accompanied by Sir Landon Ronald (under whom, incidentally, nearly 30 years earlier the 11-year-old Szell had made his pianistic debut in London).

About Casals's Elgar there has always been controversy: his reading was heavily criticized as over-emotional ('un-English') when he first played it in London before the war; but when he returned in 1945 and performed it, according to Boult, in exactly the same way, it was said that "in the deeply meditative sections . . . it reached an Elgarian mood of wistfulness that few artists understand". Desmond Shawe-Taylor, however, sticking to his guns, felt that despite the splendid tone and passages of magnificent playing "the long winding pastoral theme in the first movement is pulled clean out of shape . . . it never flows at all.. . Over the whole there hangs a heavy cloak of sentimentality". In the light of subsequent performances by other famous cellists this raises an interesting point for discussion, from which I prudently excuse myself. You should certainly hear this for yourself.

-- Gramophone [8/1990]
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Cello in B minor, Op. 104/B 191 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Pablo Casals (Cello)
Conductor:  George Szell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; USA 
Date of Recording: 1937 
Notes: This performance is also available on Magic Talent 48023, Music Memoria 30428, and Pearl 9935. 
Concerto for Cello in E minor, Op. 85 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Pablo Casals (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; England 
Date of Recording: 1945 
Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 47 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Pablo Casals (Cello)
Conductor:  Landon Ronald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Liverpool, England 
Date of Recording: 1936 

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