Each of the works on this disc is associated with a notable cellist who made a career in Russia: the Rococo Variations with the German player Wilhelm Fitzenhagen (1843–90), the Andante cantabile with Anatoly Brandukov (1859–1930), the Chant du Ménestrel with the Polish player Alexander Wierzbilowicz (1849–1911) and the Shostakovich Concerto with Mstislav Rostropovich (1927–2007) – whose genius as an interpreter knits the whole program together. The main wok on this recording is Shostakovich’s Second Concerto – a work on which Rostropovich and the composer collaborated. While the cellist’s recording with Herbert von Karajan is vastly popular, this CD includes Rostropovich’s preferred recording of the work, taped in 1960 with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. For this alone, this CD is well worth the purchase. Tully Potter provides the insightful liner notes.
“charismatic accompaniments by the splendid Leningrad Philharmonic under Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. Rostropovich is nothing if not a larger-than-life cellist … The sound is excellent” Gramophone
(Shostakovich, Glazunov): “Rostropovich plays with beautifully controlled feeling … Ozawa provides a most sympathetic and well-disciplined accompaniment and draws finely expressive playing from all departments of the orchestra. […] Glazunov’s Chant du Ménestrel … will give unalloyed pleasure. The recording is excellently balanced, both in terms of the overall perspective as well as the relationship between the various elements of the orchestra … most is made of the spacious and warm acoustic. This, then, is a most truthful recording of a most distinguished performance” Gramophone