In a nutshell, I liked Tortelier immensely but didn't care for Starker at all. I wrote various rough drafts, too many of them sarcastic. The thing is, there is not really a lot more to say, but I suppose you'd like a reason.
At the end of the interview with Dan Rather, Stokowski says, "Emotion, life… or lifeless." That is exactly what I feel as I listen to these two recordings. Tortelier invests every note with emotion. It is not like the emotion you hear from Casals or Rostropovich. Their playing has an earthiness to it, an intensity that is awesome. Tortelier is more aristocratic for lack of a better term. His sound is lush and warm with air around the music. I must have hit the repeat a dozen times listening to the Prelude to Suite #3.
When I turned to Starker it was something else, completely unlike Tortelier, Casals or Rostropovich. I read a comment in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs that referred to Starker's "intellectual strength". I think that is the problem here. There is no doubt about his command of the music but he seems to stay on the surface. It is 'lifeless".
Both discs use the latest technology in their remasterings. The Tortelier is part of the GROC series and I have commented before how the "ART" process produces excellent sound. The Starker release is a Hybrid SACD disc, but the CD sound is dry.
That's all folks.
Copyright © 2004, Robert Stumpf II