We’ve already had a BBC broadcast of a Haydn concerto from Rostropovich
– it was No.1 not the D major - in this ‘Legends’ series but not
Don Quixote, a work he came to only in 1958 after a lifting
of the anti ‘decadent’ strictures in place by the time of Stalin’s
death. He recorded it with Boris Simsky (violin),
L. Dvoskin (viola) and Kondrashin with the Moscow Philharmonic
in 1964 [currently in a huge retrospective devoted to the cellist
on EMI 17597] and also, famously, with Karajan in Berlin 1975, a recording that has
seen wide currency in the reissue stakes. Their collaboration
was notable for the aesthetic divergence between soloist and conductor,
Karajan objecting to the roughened tone Rostropovich adopted.
Where the cellist aimed at characterisation, Karajan aimed at
‘beauty.’ The cellist performed it with his colleague Rozhdestvensky
a number of times, and, as here, with Malcolm Sargent.
isn’t especially remembered for his Strauss but there’s no reason
why he shouldn’t have taken to the music. He had earlier collaborated
with the cellist in their famous traversal of the Miaskovsky
concerto, also in the EMI box of course, as is the Saint-Saëns
concerto they made at the same time and Prokofiev’s Sinfonia
concertante. As for Don Quixote Sargent had first
conducted it back in 1931 for Piatigorsky.
almost every passage except the finale Sargent is fleeter than
Karajan. He ensures a relatively lean view, expanding only in
that final scene. As ever he is a considerate and thoughtful
accompanist, as he has to be here integrating the two section
principals into the fabric of the work and ensuring balances
are maintained. The two are the BBC’s leader Hugh Maguire and
the characterful viola principal Harry Danks, a long-serving
member of the orchestra. There’s some inevitable tape hiss though
it doesn’t obtrude once one concentrates on the music making.
As for that it’s a little up and down. The solo string playing
is excellent. Rostropovich’s earthy, larger-than-life impersonation
is characteristically voluble and expressive; Danks is good,
Maguire has less to do. There are times when the results are
dramatic – The Ride through the Air is just one example.
But equally things are a little on the bluff side – The Battle
with the Sheep for instance – and the BBC orchestra can
be a bit blustery.
recorded both Haydn concertos in 1975, directing the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Here he does the same, only with a small contingent from the
LSO. This is a genial performance, broadly beamed and strong
on rich, rounded cantabile phrasing. The recording quality is
a touch better as well.
there is cachet for live broadcast material from the cellist,
though in these cash strapped times these can only ever be ancillary