Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op 85; Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33; Dvořák: Rondo in G minor, Op 94; Silent Woods, Op 68 No 5

Reviewed on Fri 21 Feb, 2014

Jacqueline du Pré's 1965 EMI recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto is often regarded as the benchmark recording of this sublime, autumnal work. Did Rostropovich erase it from his repertoire after hearing her recording? It seems a shame if he did. I'm glad Jean-Guihen Queyras hasn't adopted a similar attitude because he is the perfect foil for those who find du Pré's recording too overwrought and impassioned. Queyras is thoughtful and poetic in his approach, better catching the autumnal mood and wistfulness of this work. No histrionics, just wonderful, soul-searching playing which is beautifully captured by the fine recording. For me, this is surely a top contender. Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations provides the perfect coupling and, in the hands of Queyras, receives an equally marvellous performance – delightfully airy, and full of freshness and piquant charm. The BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek support Queyras beautifully with equally sensitive playing.
–Michael J Stewart