WORKS: Dutilleux: Toute un monde lointain…; Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher; Lutoslawski: Cello Concerto; Sacher Variation
PERFORMER: Christian Poltéra (cello); ORF Vienna Radio SO/Jac van Steen
CATALOGUE NO: BIS SACD-1777 (hybrid CD/SACD)
In programming this pair of concertos Christian Poltéra inevitably courts comparison with the 1975 EMI disc of Rostropovich, for whom both works were written.
We can dismiss thoughts of Swiss elegance vying with Russian wildness: both players do wildness and elegance with equal conviction, and in technique there’s nothing to choose between them.
Both are recorded fairly closely, which makes sense given their primordial status in both works, but if anything the BIS engineers give us more orchestral detail, since the Orchestre de Paris on the EMI recording is set back further from the microphone. Van Steen is also more punctilious than Serge Baudo over Dutilleux’s dynamic and tempo markings.
But the most notable point of difference is the more leisurely reading here of ‘Miroirs’, the fourth movement of the Dutilleux piece. For me this works wonderfully, and after it Rostropovich’s version comes to sound slightly impatient (even though both recordings take the movement slower than the metronome mark).
Lutoslawski didn’t really go along with Rostropovich’s political reading of his Concerto (individual versus state); rumour has it that for their recording the cellist played down this aspect. Even so, Poltéra is more successful in the opening cadenza in expressing what Lutos√awski called its ‘frivolous atmosphere’.
The only blots are a couple of inaccurate pitches in the Dutilleux and, at the very end of the Lutoslawski, the unwanted intervention of the open D string under the cellist’s high As. A shame these bars weren’t retaken. Roger Nichols