TAS Rated 4/5 Music, 3.5/5 Sonics in the December 2008 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
Schumann rapidly composed his Cello Concerto in only two weeks during an extremely productive creative phase. Its first performance was quite another story. Although the piece was written “first and foremost for this beautiful instrument,” no cellist from Frankfurt had shown interest in the piece, but then declined to play it after Schumann had refused to comply with his wishes for certain changes. This led to the unfortunate fact that Schumann did not live to see the work’s premiere. Things went quite differently with Edouard Lalo, who described himself as a self-taught composer; an excellent cellist himself, Lalo could be sure that his work would be heard in the concert hall. Both works are connected by the pioneering attempt to establish the cello as a solo instrument in concert life in the 19th century. Right from the fifth bar of the Schumann concerto Janos Starker is able to display his mastership in the expansive main theme. In the Lalo too he demonstrates his absolute virtuosity.
“Starker’s focused tone and intense style of playing – this isn’t a sloppy sort of romanticism – is captured by a recording manifesting natural balances between soloist and orchestra. Tonally, sonics are not particularly bright, as some might expect from Mercury. Skrowaczewski’s alert and carefully shaped accompaniment is reproduced with good detail and depth.” – Andy Quint, The Absolute Sound, December 2008