First Time Comparison

On this page it is possible to compare the two versions, while observing the score of the cello part.

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Analysis of the two interpretations

At bar 87 Walewska enters dramatically and passionately, while Rostropovič is clear and measured;

The two soloists continue on their own ways in similar vein, each confirming the initial impressions, the trills at bars 103-109 showing the enormous differences between the two performances. Rostropovič plays them level and accurately, while Walewska deliberately underlines the differences, even altering the speed of the trill and adding weight to the crescendos mentioned in the score.

On reaching the “spiccato” in bars 110-119, the austere, impeccable (R) seems much less impressive than the accelerating rubatos of (W).

It is almost as if she were communicating the dramatic anxiousness to reach the forceful, intimate appeal of bar 120, after the intense, reflective pauses of bars 115, 117, and 119. The first movement of bar 120 either strikes us violently (W) or strokes us languidly in an attempt to calm us down (R).

How differently are the question-answer archetypes (bars 128-131) presented: originating in profound existential doubt (W), or deliberately lengthened as it were to break up emotion (R).

We now reach the second, love theme, which the composer himself was unable to listen to without deeply moving involvement, If he had heard Walewska’s heart rending (in places almost desperate) performance (W6), he might well have fainted! Rostropovich, on the other hand presents us with a reflective, touching theme that unexpectedly slows down (R) (as if to blunt the strong feelings it evokes) in bars 147-148…

…and does not highlight the first movements of bars 150 and 152 (R), which W cries out from the depths of the soul.

There are fewer differences between bars 158 and 192 (W), with the exception of R’s more brilliant and staccato playing of the commenting variations (bars 158-165) and the quicker running through the quadruplets in bars 172-173 and 182, as well as the demisemiquavers in bars 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, creating more an impression of rebellion than introspection as is the case in W

The cello’s return (W) (bars 224 ff.) is lengthened with great expressiveness, but less dramatically by (R);

and the minute underlining of the orchestral theme between bars 240 and 256 is a suffocated, gentle weeping, which does increase, though not enough to justify the violent reaction in bars 256-267 (R). On the other hand, W is heart rending as far as bar 249, turning into growing anguish from bar 250 to 255, so much so that the explosion at bar 256 ff. appears physiologically necessary. This is one of the emotional high points of the whole Concerto, and she presents it admirably (W10).

The situation is similar with the cello’s entry at bars 270-283, which R presents more slowly and surely, deliberately keeping down the emotional content. His moderation at the first movement of bar 281 is unexpected. W shouts it out as the climax of an emotional crescendo before calming down in bars 281-284.

The subsequent comment variations (bars 285-292), similar to those in bars 158 ff., are performed less brilliantly than before, almost obviously, by R, communicated to the following phrase as far as bar 319. After all we are dealing with already experienced and expressed feelings. Here W is in strong contrast. She shows us how, within the message of the whole first movement, this moment is the last for expression of those previous feelings, and, for this reason, needs to be savoured to the full. What should be said about R’s rather awkward jumps in the strappato demisemiquavers in bars 313-318?

Nevertheless, R’s performance of the entry from bar 323 to the end is acceptable, even though there is a feeling of liberation from emotional states only partially accepted (R). W, on the other hand, interprets this final part as an illuminating conclusion of a journey along a greatly troubled path.