Originally issued in 1998 on Finlandia 3984-21441-2, this is
one of the more successful of Warner's 'Apex' series. There is no doubting
Noras's technique (see also his recording of Penderecki Cello Concertos
on Finlandia 8573-85575-2, with the Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by the
composer) and, given the price of the reissue, no-one will be seriously
The first thing to strike the listener is the up-front
recording. It takes a little getting used to, but it nevertheless carries
sufficient depth to convince in the final analysis, whilst still revealing
many felicities of the score.
Unfortunately, the important solo horn player in the
First Concerto is not credited, whose contribution is strong and forthright
in the first movement, and who presents a final 'whoop' to the final
(sounding) E flat with the appropriate abandon. The highlight of this
account is the cello cadenza which constitutes the third movement, where
Noras seems to relish his freedom. Rasilainen's accompaniment is somewhat
The Second Concerto is by far the most problematical
of the two and receives far fewer performances. Rostropovich on BBC
Legends BBCL4073-2 (with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Colin Davis)
is streets ahead. Noras is far too literal for the initial 'Largo,'
and Rasilainen does not encourage the horns to be raucous enough in
the second movement ('Allegretto'). In the hands of Noras and Rasilainen,
the finale meanders as if they have not grasped this music interpretatively
The Richard Strauss 'Romanze' is a peaceful way to
end the disc which hardly squares with the brutalities of the Shostakovich.
Noras plays affectingly and lyrically, if without imbuing any special
aura to the music.