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Dvorák: Cello Concerto / Beethoven: Cello Sonata No. 3 - Fournier / Gulda / Szell

Dvorák: Cello Concerto / Beethoven: Cello Sonata No. 3 - Fournier / Gulda / Szell

Esoteric  ESSG-90087

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Dvorák: Cello Concerto
Beethoven: Cello Sonata No. 3

Pierre Fournier (cello)
Friedrich Gulda (piano)
Berliner Philharmoniker
George Szell (conductor)

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9 of 9 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

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Analogue recording

Analog recording: September 1971
Comments (5)
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Comment by sancho santos - June 14, 2018 (1 of 5)

The Best Dvorák Concerto in Digital.

Comment by breydon_music - June 14, 2018 (2 of 5)

Yes, I would certainly second this; the combination of Fournier and Szell seem, to my ears, to produce a far more musically satisfying result than Rostropovich / Karajan on the same label from the same era and also re-issued in hi-res. However, anyone taking the plunge should bear in mind that there is now an alternative SACD issue of this, coupled with Fournier's Elgar cello concerto, issued by Tower Records in Japan. The conductor here is Wallenstein who I'm not sure is quite on the same level as Szell, but Fournier is very insightful, the recording very musical, and it's good to have a "European" view of this concerto on SACD.

Comment by ubertrout - June 25, 2018 (3 of 5)

I haven't heard this SACD (I've heard the recording, of course, but not on SACD, it's very good). However, for folks just looking for the Dvorák 'cello concerto on SACD, there are much better options unless you specifically want this recording.

For a modern view in surround (or stereo, of course) you should look at:
Dvorak: Cello Concerto, Symphonic Variations - Wispelwey, Fischer
Dvorak: Cello Concerto, Dumky Trio - Jean-Guihen Queyras (sadly out of print)
Dvořák / Martinů: Cello Concertos - Poltéra / Dausgaard
Dvořák / Lalo: Cello Concertos - Moser / Hrůša

And both the RCA Living Stereo and Mercury Living Presence versions are very good as well, in 2 and 3 channel stereo:
Dvorak, Walton: Cello Concertos - Piatigorsky
Dvorak: Cello Concerto, Bruch, Tchaikovsky - Starker/Dorati

I get nervous about people on this site saying a release like this is the best version on digital. Sonically it just can't compete with the modern recordings listed above, and frankly I suspect the Living Stereo & Presence recordings in 3-channel surpass it as well. In terms of performance it's a gem, but so are many of the others listed here.

Comment by Bruce Zeisel - June 30, 2018 (4 of 5)

Right on! Ubertrout

I have all four of the newer recordings you mention and I have the original LP of the Fornier Szell. While its excellence is not to be denied, I much prefer to listen to the unfortunately out of print Jean-Guihen Queyras recording. I have a special fondness as well for both Poltera and Moser.

When I saw the comment "Best in digital" I winced and almost jumped in with my opinion, but held back thinking those guys have a different mind-set. They will never pay any attention to what you say. But now I do feel compelled to say it. I would never pay a premium to hear a reissue of an old stereo recording when such excellence represented by the aforementioned is available

Comment by breydon_music - July 3, 2018 (5 of 5)

Well, for my part in all this, I was only comparing it to the Rostropovich/Karajan, nothing else. I have the Queyras and the Moser, love them both and wouldn't part with either of them - or the Fournier or the Rostropovich. They're all so different. I guess I would most likely opt for the Moser with his gorgeous tone, a great performance and superb recording for general listening, but sometimes I would want to luxuriate in the elegance of Fournier or the more agressive Russian chunkiness of Rostropovich. I happily concede to a rose-tinted fondness for the best recordings of the 60's and 70's - it was the time when I was first discovering the riches contained under the umbrella of "classical music" and, like the start of a love affair, you can never re-kindle the excitement and passion of that time. But I do support with pleasure the current crop of new SACD releases and have commented in these pages about a number of BIS issues of late in particular. We are fortunate, I think, that the labels that support hi-res, also have the cream of artists and repertoire and I'm constantly grateful particularly to the teams at BIS, Pentatone and Chandos for what they give us. I spend a lot of time listening to current releases but I don't always do that, and when I feel like looking back, I get just as much enjoyment out of that too. Could I perhaps start an "old and new combined" camp where just the music making matters?