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“Truly legendary performances are rare, but this heroic account of the Dvorák Concerto deserves its place on collectors' shelves alongside such classics as Mravinsky's Shostakovich Eighth or Horenstein's Mahler Symphony of a Thousand.
This concert offers us a piece of history in sound that raises questions about music and politics, music and personality, music and identity.
In the Cold War era, no Western tour by Russian artists was entirely without political resonance, and this London Prom took place on the very day that Soviet tanks rolled into Prague.
With demonstrators outside the Royal Albert Hall, there was also dissent within. The performers might not have been directly to blame, yet had they not been dispatched knowingly, as cultural ambassadors? Svetlanov, at least, was something of an apparatchik. Moreover, the programme featured the Dvorák Concerto – an intensely nostalgic and nationalistic score, a natural focus for strong emotions.
On this privately sourced, somewhat compressed- sounding mono tape, you can hear the unease as Svetlanov and his raw-toned band tear into the work as if determined to get it over with as quickly as possible. It's the cellist, already in tears, whose transparently honest playing wins the audience over, as his sense of guilt and fury is transmuted into a potent requiem for the Czech Spring. The restated second subject is forcefully projected, suitably gutsy and passionate at the start, but it's the development which strikes deepest. Never has the first theme's metamorphosis from resolute, relatively short-breathed march to elegy struck home so movingly. The finale is almost too rushed until the tender, unmistakably tragic, coda arrives, presenting an extreme and all the more moving contrast.
The Schumann, though scarcely epoch-making in the same way, was recorded on the occasion of the cellist's first visit to the Aldeburgh Festival. It receives a glorious interpretation.
The sound, considerably more refined and open, is still mono only with the orchestra rather backwardly placed. Strongly recommended.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Dvorak & Herbert: Cello Concertos
Usually despatched in 8 - 10 working days.
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 & Cello Concerto
Berlin State Opera Orchestra