A Night to Remember: Placido Domingo & Mstislav Rostropovich

On this DVD we
get a recent photograph of the tenor. Moreover the sleeve notes mention that
“despite his advanced age, the cellist’s control is
exemplary” as if 79-year old Rostropovich recorded this DVD some months
ago. Both gentlemen, however, look splendid, more youthful than their
advanced age would tell you. I’m sorry to report this has nothing to do
with a miraculous youth cure but more with the fact that one quick look into
Domingo’s performing career revealed he gave this concert on July 17,
1991. And, this date probably solves another small mystery. For a few minutes
I was slightly amazed the recording firm would send a review copy with less
than perfect picture quality till I remembered the concert date (not to be
found in the sleeve notes). There’s always some haziness and the
colours are a little bit whitewashed. But as a former TV producer, I remember
too well the decade between the late seventies and the late eighties. We no
longer used kinescope to record live performances as we had switched to an
amazing amount of video recording means. When we watched them a few years
later, this turned out to be a small disaster. Whereas film, and even
kinescope, kept their full colour glory, a lot of recordings on video were
almost beyond repair. By the nineties the technique once more had improved
beyond recognition; but I fear that this DVD is one of the last testimonies
of those early video years.

I’m a little bit sceptical concerning the programme. I wonder how
many admirers of Rostropovich want to hear Domingo. Vice versa, how many
Domingistes are interested in a Haydn concerto well-played though it is? This
was a big open air concert and therefore pot boilers like the Tchaikovsky and
the Verdi overtures were maybe necessary to sell tickets, but I seriously
doubt there will be many people thirsting for a Domingo conducted
Forza. The tenor is in good voice though, as often with Domingo,
there is that generalized beautiful sound in the middle register without much
characterizing and some pushing over the staff. For such concerts, he always
carefully selected arias and duets that didn’t reach high B, which by
that time was already beyond his means. The duet with Borodina is generously
sung and is one of the first documents of the later star mezzo. And one has
to admit, especially if one cannot comment on Domingo’s mastery of
Russian, that rarely Lensky aria will have sounded better. But the best piece
is the fine Massenet …lÈgie, which he sings more beautifully than
old Gigli or younger Corelli. This time the colours in his voice are
hauntingly plangent and Domingo himself plays the piano with Rostropovich at
the cello. I wish both gentlemen had chosen more of such pieces. And I think
that 58 minutes is rather short value.

Jan Neckers

image_description=A Night to Remember: Placido Domingo & Mstislav Rostropovich
product_title=A Night to Remember: Placido Domingo & Mstislav Rostropovich
product_by=Placido Domingo, Mstislav Rostropovich, Olga Borodina, Kirov Orchestra
product_id=Immortal IMM 9600009 [DVD]