Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Cello Concerto in B minor Op.104 [40:37]
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Kol Nidrei Op. 47 [11:33]
Canzone for cello and orchestra, Op. 55 [8:42]
Antonio Janigro (cello)
Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Dean Dixon
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Arthur Rodzinski (Bruch)
rec. 1950

Whilst this traversal of the Dvořák Cello Concerto has had some circulation as a digital download, the two Bruch pieces have languished on LP for far too long. I’m more than grateful to Forgotten Records for making these recordings available again.

The Dvořák gets off to a good start, with Dixon establishing an agreeable pace in the tutti at the start. Once the scene is set, the cellist enters the fray. Janigro’s opening measures are not as highly charged or as arresting as some; he could even be accused of understatement to some extent. The second subject isn’t over-sentimentalized but is rendered within the bounds of elegance and good taste. The slow movement is heartfelt and poetic and is the most successful of the three movements. The finale is dance-like and has plenty of resolve, with the more lyrical moments expressive and fervent. Dean Dixon conducts with authority, and successfully marries passion with eloquence. There’s a later live recording of the Concerto with Janigro from 1955 on Archipel ARPCD0329 conducted by Erich Kleiber which I haven’t heard.

The gems here are most certainly the two works by Max Bruch. I’m very fond of Kol Nidrei. With his rich, full-bodied and burnished tone, Janigro gets to the heart of this introspective and haunting work. There’s plenty of pathos and nostalgia, as well as dignity and conviction, in his reading. The serene melody halfway through is ardently etched. The same compelling features can be found in Janigro’s playing of the Canzone, Op. 55. You can’t fail to be won over by the way he luxuriates in the beguiling lyricism of this seductive score.

Forgotten Records have fortunately had access to very fine copies of Westminster and Vega LPs, and their re-masterings are fresh and vital. There are no accompanying notes, but information is given on relevant websites for those interested in knowing more.

Stephen Greenbank