It's ironic that this thread appeared today. My older sister (she's 72) just sent me some of her old LPs as a sort of birthday present. They arrived today and included was a mono Mercury Living Presence 3-LP set of Janos Starker playing the Bach Unaccompanied Suites for cello, just like this
I have a bit of history with the cello. My brother started studying it when I was 8 and I grew up from then on listening to him practice the cello and perform on the cello. He earned a BS in cello performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and studied for a year under Lynn Harrell, who's probably the best cellist living today.
After my brother got serious about cello, my dad started buying classical cello LPs, including the Mercury Starker set, some RCA Red Seals with Heifetz and Piatagorsky, and the Villa-Lobos album on Everest recorded on 35mm mag film.
When I bought my first CD player in 1987 I started building up a classical music library. You couldn't get the Starker or Casals on CD then, and Rostropovich wouldn't be recording his version for another 14 years or so. So the best I could get at the time was Lynn Harrell's on London Digital, which is actually quite nice. I also heard the first Yo Yo Ma and a few years ago picked up the Rostropovich set.
Well, that Starker LP set had spoiled me. If it wasn't the performance it was the sonics, and vice-versa. Now that I've had nearly two years to get reacquainted with the LP sound, I can say that listening to Starker album was like a cool drink of water after a long walk through the digital desert.
The strengths of LP playback mesh well with the sonic character of the cello. The way the cello's tone springs to life, blooms, and then fades demands the near infinite dynamic resolution of analog. Digital doesn't begin to capture the way the bow scratches the string, activates the spruce top, causes the instrument body to resonate, and then fades as the next note begins. LPs present it in all (or most of) its glory.
Since the advent of the CD, we've had some excellent cellists--Harrell, Ma, Bylsmer--but only one legend, Rostropovich. The LP era saw several legends--Casals, Piatagorsky, Rostropovich again, Starker, Fournier, Leonard Rose (who taught both Ma and Harrell), and DuPre. Except for the Speakers Corner reissue of the Starker Mercury set, most cello on LP is of a limited finite and shrinking supply. And DuPre, who should have been peaking in the last few years, had to stop playing over 20 years ago. So her discography is relatively brief.
I suspect there are far more LPs (i.e., copies of each title) of the violinists--Heifetz, Zimbalist, Szeryng, Stern, Francescatti, etc. than of the cellists.