Classical Music classical CDs reviewed New CD reviews every day latest Classical CD releases Buy your CDs of the classics here

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Symphony No. 1 in B flat, Op. 38, 'Spring'a. Kinderszenen, Op. 15b. Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129c. Fantasie in C, Op. 17d. Arabeske in C, Op. 18e. Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 5fe.
cMstislav Rostropovich (cello); bWilhelm Kempff, deMaurizio Pollini (pianos); aVienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein; cLeningrad Philharmonic Orchestra/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky; eBerlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Claudio Abbado
DG Panorama 469 199-2 [bcdADD/aefDDD] [145'12]
 bargain price

This two-CD set deserves an (almost) unreserved welcome. DG have, to their credit, included performances by two controversial artists: Leonard Bernstein (Symphony No. 1) and Maurizio Pollini (who gets the whole of the second disc to himself).

Bernstein's 'Spring' symphony is full of life: the Vienna Philharmonic play as if this is the greatest symphony ever written. Accents are incisive and the opening is a full-blooded, unapologetic reveille.

Rostropovich's account of the under-played Cello Concerto is similarly convincing, The Russian cellist is on top form, and Rozhdestvensky is a natural accompanist. Rostropovich luxuriates in the extended first movement and gives much life to the finale.

Wilhelm Kempff's account of Kinderszenen is the only disappointment of this set. He misses much of the sense of fantasy and (most importantly) discovery, and any tenderness comes too late in the performance to redeem it.

The contrast with Pollini's magisterial pianism is all the more stark because of this. His 1973 Fantasie has tremendous sweep. There is a real sense of intimacy (the last movement is the perfect track to play to anyone who thinks of Pollini as merely cerebral). His Arabesque is fluid and delicate, with the tone appropriately lightened. The Piano Concerto continues this standard (with the exception of a bad edit about six seconds in!). The improvisational, autumnal atmosphere is caught to perfection and Abbado is the perfect partner: the contrapuntal passages in the finale are wonderfully alive. Also, Pollini shows himself to be capable of the lightest, gossamer touch.

A marvellous set, only marginally marred by Kempff's contribution.


Colin Clarke

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index