James A. Altena
, May 2012
…the set as a whole merits attention.
…John Bauman wrote, “Khachaturian uses all of his standard tricks: Armenian folk-related themes, repetitive writing, and brilliant scoring. The result is a work that should be more widely known than it is.” …if Khachaturian is your cup of musical tea, this performance delivers the goods—Rostropovich was the work’s dedicatee, and doubtless no one else can match him in it.
…the Davis-led performance here of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme is hands-down the best of any of Rostropovich’s recorded performances of the work, with a passionate intensity that makes other versions…seem sedate by comparison.
The Schumann concerto is a problematic piece from the composer’s final years, and difficult to bring off successfully. Rostropovich was nonetheless an early and longtime advocate of the score, and with a sympathetic podium partner in Benjamin Britten…the piece is presented here to its best advantage…this outing minimizes the longueurs and textural opacity in the orchestral parts and provides greater lyricism and dramatic contrast. It is arguably Rostropovich’s best account of this work…
This performance of the Dvořák concerto…Rostropovich delivers his briskest recorded performance with a knife-edge intensity, appropriately supported by Svetlanov, who provides powerfully emotive if decidedly unsubtle support…its unique character and circumstances make it an essential acquisition for all admirers of Rostropovich.
In Tchaikovsky’s Pezzo capriccioso the Russian once again enjoys stellar support from Britten, in a performance remarkable for lightness and clarity of texture and discipline of orchestral ensemble.
…the Haydn D Major and the Saint-Saëns concerto on this disc…is full-bodied, warm-blooded, and not the slightest bit manic, and I find its brisker tempi and lighter touch superior to the rather earthbound studio outing.
…the Saint-Saëns concerto…is a superb rendition delivered with a quicksilver fluidity that is exhilarating.
…the purchase of this set as a whole is easily the superior option. Where the contents of this collection have counterparts in the Brilliant Classics and Doremi sets, the performances here…are the superior versions. This is, therefore, a sine qua non for fans of Rostropovich, and strongly recommended to others as well. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare