Dvor‡k, Ibert

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Dvorak,Ibert
WORKS: Cello Concerto in B minor; Concerto for Cello & Wind
PERFORMER: Jacqueline du Pré (cello); RLPO/Charles Groves, Michael Krein Orchestra/Michael Krein
The history on record of some 75 years show that views of Dvorák’s Second Cello Concerto have shifted considerably. Emmanuel Feuerman’s performance, recorded in the late 1920s, still one of the most breathtakingly virtuosic readings of the solo part, took a relatively brisk view of the work, the timing being a little over 33 minutes (Pearl). In the middle of the century perspectives shifted markedly and performances these days regularly come in at anything up to ten minutes longer. This 1969 recording by Jacqueline du Pré, lasting over 42 minutes, is symptomatic of the change. Literature on the concerto perhaps reflects this: before 1940 there’s no mention of a nostalgic dimension to the work, but from 1942 onwards that element is one frequently discussed. Dvorák himself gave some substance to this interpretation when in a letter he linked his desire to return to Bohemia with his profound enthusiasm for the first movement’s memorably lyrical second subject.Du Pré’s reading must count as one of the most richly nostalgic ever captured on disc. Throughout, the solo playing is warmly lyrical and superbly expressive. The orchestral accompaniment often matches her intensity, but there are many rough edges, notably in the first movement, and coordination between conductor and soloist is sometimes poor. With a an affectionate and witty performance of Ibert’s Concerto for Cello and Wind this CD is eminently recommendable for admirers of this remarkable artist, but for a more balanced and more penetrating reading of the Dvorák, Fournier and Szell remain unbeatable. Jan Smaczny