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CD Review

Heinrich Schiff

Turns 50

Heinrich Schiff, cello
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra/Colin Davis
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/André Previn
Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig/Kurt Masur
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
Philips 470250-2 2CDs 141m DDD
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Heinrich Schiff has just turned 50 recently and this double CD set has been issued to commemorate this occasion. It takes us to four middle-of-the-road performances of some staple repertoire works, all available beforehand in various price ranges. The Dvořák Concerto is excellent with a fine sounding Concertgebouw under Colin Davis, and the spirit of the work is quite classically conveyed. I also enjoyed Prokofieff's Symphony Concerto although a recently released version with Rostropovich is clearly on top here.

The second disc includes a brilliant 'Don Quixote' with the Gewandhaus Leipzig Orchestra under Kurt Masur. This is one of those recordings in which the cellist is given a supreme lead to dominate proceedings whilst the orchestra supports with outstanding conviction. I was comparing this version to Pierre Fournier's classic rendering with the VPO under Krauss, and I must report that Schiff easily matches that legendary cellist's relay, notwithstanding the superiority of the Philips sound that is clearly on top. The final concerto is the Schumann, a rarely heard excursion which has Schiff at his more introspective, rather akin to Fournier's recording for DG.

The package includes interesting liner notes and all recordings sound quite superb. This is a timely half-century tribute to one of the digital age's finest cellists.

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech