The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, although a relatively small orchestra, is one of the most adventurous orchestras in Europe and one of the best orchestras in a country that has more symphonies per capita than any other country. Based in Helsinki, it is the primary radio orchestra of the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
Schelomo receives its mead of barbarous splendour at the hands of Nelsova and Abravanel. The recording is a shade too warm but Nelsova (who recorded far too little) who studied the piece with the composer demonstrates her familiarity and sympathy with the piece. This is essential as Schelomo is one of those works that can easily seem nondescript if the artists involved are unengaged. In that sense it is rather like the Bax cello concerto (still awaiting its ideal exponent on disc). This is Nelsova's second, recording of the work. The feverish grip of the music is strongly asserted.
Mstislav Rostropovich did more for the advancement of the cello than probably any other artist since Pablo Casals. Even after his sad passing in 2007 at the age of 80, is musical influence is felt not only in the cello community, but among orchestral musicians as well. This Deutsche Grammophon DVD is among the many tributes to Rostropovich that have surfaced over the short time since his passing. It features the Schumann Concerto and Bloch's Schelomo with Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre National de France and Strauss' Don Quixote with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. All of these performances are given their first DVD release here. Schumann and Bloch are given intense, riveting performances by Rostropovich and orchestra alike. Any other cellist who played with as much force and aggression would be accused of overplaying, but with Rostropovich the intensity and conviction of his playing are what make the entire performance.