I have always been a big fan of modern recordings...I love the richness and clarity of really good studio work...especially if I'm listening to something on headphones. In the past, when I would pick a recording...I always tended to lean toward the one that had better audio quality, regardless of the performers.
This CD, however, is not one I would have picked in the past, and yet has turned out to be one of my favorite performances of Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence. Rostropovich and Genrikh Talayan (viola) join the Borodin Quartet for an amazing performance. I have included two movements below to contrast both the lyrical slow movement with the race to the finish finale. Maybe Rostropovich's speed demon tendencies (eg. Rococo Variations Finale & Dance of the Elves) influenced the finale, maybe everyone in the sextet wanted it...but right at 6:30 it pushes ahead and you know they are going for broke on that coda. Hahaha. There are a few intonation moments, but overall its an excellent performance with many great moments. The build/arrival of the recapitulation in the first movement is nothing short of epic.
This collection also includes Tchaikovsky's three string quartets as well as the string quartet movement. While I prefer Emerson's Tchaikovsky String Quartet No. 1 (THEIR DVORAK/TCHAIKOVSKY/BORODIN CD EVERY STRING PLAYER MUST OWN), Souvenir features outstanding ensemble work and amazing playing. Plus, it has Rostropovich! Who would say no? Its a historic recording of a great ensemble you should at least hear once. You can stream the entire CD off Naxos.
disclaimer : rostropovich is playing second cello...so the cello solos aren't him. i know...i MIGHT have "mislead" you. but you're here now...so listen anyway. it really is so good you won't care that he's only providing the most supporting bass-line ever.
Movement II : Andante cantabile e con moto
Movement IV : Allegro vivace