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Legendary Treasures: Leonard Rose (cello)
Detailed track-listing below DOREMI DHR8038-39 [75:36 + 79:07]
Doremi have recently issued live performances from July 1966 of Leonard Rose collaborating with his close colleagues Isaac Stern and Eugene Istomin in the Beethoven Triple Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto (DHR8047). At around the same time this twofer appeared featuring Rose in live airings with orchestra and in cello and piano sonata performances – all first time releases.
Leonard Rose (1918-1984) was born in Washington, D.C., though his parents were immigrants from Kiev, Ukraine. He was a student of Frank Miller and Felix Salmond at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia. He started as principal cellist in Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra and later held similar posts in the Cleveland Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. He held teaching positions at Juilliard and Curtis and of his many gifted pupils, Lynn Harrell and Yo Yo Ma have forged high profile careers. As a soloist he made recordings with a roster of distinguished conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, George Szell and Bruno Walter. My first acquaintance with his playing was as part of the celebrated piano trio he formed with Isaac Stern and Eugene Istomin.
The first CD deals with works for cello and orchestra, all staples of the cellist’s repertoire. In their commercial equivalents, Rose’s partnership with Ormandy was a common denominator in all three (1960s), though he also set down earlier recordings of the Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saëns with Szell (1952) and Mitropoulos (1951) respectively. In the live traversals we have here I couldn’t detect too much interpretative divergence from the studio runs. Rose’s warm, well-rounded tone is a constant presence, and his formidable technical mastery is taken as read. Elegance, restraint and cultivated musicianship are compelling virtues. Maybe there’s a tad more freshness and spontaneity here, as the cellist responds to the live event. Dutoit and de Froment provide admirable support. Audio quality is remarkable, and announcements have been retained as has the applause in the Dvořák.
It is regrettable that Rose only committed to commercial disc two of Beethoven’s Cello and Piano Sonatas, nos 3 and 5 with Eugene Istomin in 1969. These are the very two we have here. No 5 is again with Istomin from the Stratford Summer Festival, Canada, 1969. The recording is a little rough-edged and is afflicted with some background roar. However, it is the 1973 broadcast of Beethoven and Brahms, in which the cellist is partnered by the Lithuanian pianist Nadia Reisenberg, which is the plum. In better sound, the instrumentalists respond instinctively to one another, and there’s no doubting that this is a partnership of equals with both players temperamentally akin. Add to this attention to detail, matching phrasing and dynamics, and the deal is clinched for me.
Having said this, nothing can match the thrill and fever pitch intensity of the final movement of Op. 69 on a filmed version, with Rose and the Canadian Glenn Gould. Viewable on Youtube, it’s not to be missed.
These compelling recordings provide valuable additions to the cellist’s discography and, apart from the inherent audio problems with Beethoven’s Op.102, No 2, all have cleaned up well. Jack Silver’s biographical portraits of the participating artists are helpful. Let’s hope there’ll be more hitherto unissued live Rose forthcoming.
Stephen Greenbank Detailed track-listing CD 1 Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 [38:59]
Orchestre National de l'ORTF/Charles Dutoit
live, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, 6 December 1967 Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op. 33 [19:00]
Radio Luxembourg Orchestra,/Louis de Froment
live, Radiostudio, Luxembourg, 15 November 1961 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33 [17:32]
Radio Luxembourg Orchestra,/Louis de Froment
live, Radiostudio Luxembourg, 17 November 1961
CD 2 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 5 in D major, Op. 102 No. 2 [22:43]
Eugene Istomin (piano)
live, Stratford Summer Festival, Canada, 1969
Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69 [24:07] Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38 [22:18] Encore Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A major, Op. 69: Mvt. III [9:50]
Nadia Reisenberg (piano)
live broadcast, WQXR Radiostudio, New York,
Presented by Robert Sherman, January 1973