Mischa Maisky's rich, velvety tone and brilliant technique give all the works here an arresting, memorable quality. The recordings, too, are full and resonant and, in the concerto, the Orpheus players sound as passionately involved as the soloist; the tuttis lose all feeling of formality. (By comparison, the LSO for Isserlis lack intensity.) I was swept along by Maisky's performance until the third movement, where he takes the main theme very slowly, more Andante than Allegro moderato, then speeds up substantially for the virtuoso passages. Both Isserlis, and Fournier, in his fine 1948 recording, show how much more satisfying a performance can be without these extreme tempo variations.
For the Suite, I think I'd prefer MaiskyRead more over the Naxos recording with Maria Kliegel, attractive and stylish though that is. Playing and recording are more vivid, with the Molto adagio tempo of the Romance beautifully sustained. Maisky's warmth and verve carry him through the Allegro appassionato and the Op. 36 Romance in fine style, but `Le cygne' is very disappointing — hold-ups (often big ones) on nearly every bar-line destroy the serenity.
Though the Maisky and Isserlis discs contain several of the same pieces, there's a very different emphasis — Isserlis mostly with piano, Maisky with orchestra, so they only come into direct competition for the concerto and the sonata. The performances of the latter are very different, Maisky and Hovora bringing out the music's dark passion, Isserlis and Devoyon stressing classical refinement. I definitely prefer the Isserlis/Devoyon Andante — the different elements come together more persuasively — but for the outer movements it's more difficult to say; you really need to hear both.
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swanby Camille Saint-Saëns Performer:
Mischa Maisky (Cello)
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1886; France Date of Recording: 03/1997