Half a century has passed since the memorable performances of Dvořák's Cello Concerto by the late Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim, then husband and wife. One of them was a filmed BBC Prom, organised at short notice to raise funds for Czechoslovakia after Soviet forces invaded in 1968.
Today Barenboim is long established as a mainstay of musical life in Berlin and his political commitment is keenly focused on the Middle East. This live recording of Dvořák's Cello Concerto, made in 2018, finds him with his Staatskapelle Berlin and Kian Soltani, an Iranian cellist who used to head the cello section of Barenboim's other orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a meeting place for young Israeli and Arab musicians.
It is an enjoyable performance which is true to both of them, as it embraces youthful freshness and senior wisdom. Here is Dvořák looking out over a sunny, idyllic landscape.
Other recordings of this concerto make bigger statements, du Pré herself pushing the emotions to their limits, Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich larger-than-life as usual. Soltani is more lyrical and supported by Barenboim with a well-judged flow of pace and minimal bombast. There is a high standard of playing all round.
The disc is filled with audience-pleasing bonbons. These include arrangements for solo cello and cello ensemble of the slow movement from Dvořák's “New World” Symphony and several songs, including the ever-popular “Songs my Mother Taught Me".
‘Dvořák: Cello Concerto’ is released by DG
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