The Dvorák Cello Concerto has become one of the most iconic concertos in the instrument's repertoire, having been recorded (often more than once) by the vast majority of cellists who typically perform concertos. With so many recordings out there, it's difficult for new recordings and new cellists to distinguish themselves. Cellist Gautier Capuçon, in this album for Virgin Classics, throws his hat into the ring along with Paavo Järvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. There is no denying Capuçon's impressive technical abilities; his intonation is impeccable, he maneuvers around the fingerboard with impressive ease, and his tone is rich but transparent.
Libor Pešek, born in Prague, recorded this rich collection of works by Dvořák with two orchestras that are closely linked with his name: the Czech Philharmonic, a natural choice for this repertoire, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Pešek, who spent 11 years as Music Director in Liverpool, voiced his admiration for the British players’ “immense interest in Czech music”, their “dedication to the score” and their capacity for playing “in the Czech manner”.
Expectations run high for any disc of Charles Mackerras conducting Dvořák, and this one doesn't disappoint. He is at the top of his game here, and with an orchestra and soloist to match. No doubt this is among the first of many Mackerras reissues that will be appearing over the coming years. If they are all to this standard, then we are in for a real treat.
Jos van Immerseel and Claire Chevallier have enjoyed a close collaboration for many years now. Like Jos van Immerseel, Claire Chevallier loves period pianos; like him, she is a researcher and possesses her own collection of keyboard instruments.
This performance of the fiery Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra, Op. 24, of Josef Suk, with violinist Christan Tetzlaff catching the full impact of the irregular form with its dramatic opening giving out into a set of variations, is impressive. And Tetzlaff delivers pure warm melody in the popular Romance in F minor, Op. 11, of Dvorák. But the real reason to acquire this beautifully recorded Ondine release is the performance of the Dvorák Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53, a work of which there are plenty of recordings, but that has always played second fiddle (if you will) to the Brahms concerto. Tetzlaff and the Helsinki Philharmonic under John Storgårds create a distinctive and absorbing version that can stand with the great Czech recordings of the work. Sample anywhere, but especially the slow movement, where Tetzlaff's precise yet rich sound, reminiscent for those of a certain age of Henryk Szeryng, forms a striking contrast with Storgårds' glassy Nordic strings. In both outer movements as well, Tetzlaff delivers a warm yet controlled performance that is made to stand out sharply.
The Collegium Vocale Gent, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Philippe Herreweghe join forces once again for a monument of the sacred choral repertoire: Antonín Dvorák’s Requiem, Op. 89. This work, dating from 1890, is one of those that marked a new phase in the composer’s musical creation, in which he recognized himself ‘as much a poet as well as a musician’. In addition, this reveals the veritable nature of a composer without constraint, probably being neither a commission nor an occasional work.
This two-CD set pulls together the Borodin Trio's recordings of all four of Dvorák's piano trios into one package. These were originally recorded between 1983 and 1992, and despite the different dates, there is a consistency of sound in them. That sound has an ambient coldness that isn't warmed up by the music, and it balances the instruments almost equally, to the point where when the piano has the melody it doesn't stick out much from the violin and cello. It leaves the impression that hearing the Borodin Trio live would be the best way to fully appreciate its performance, because even if it were in a bad sounding hall, you would still be able to see their reactions to the music and each other.
Dvorák’s Violin Concerto has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts on disc, one that it entirely deserves. Its critics (starting with Joachim and Brahms) dismissed it for not adopting the usual sonata-form first movement structure, instead welding the truncated opening to the gorgeous slow movement. But really, how many violin concertos are there where you can really say that the best, most characterful and highly developed movement is the finale? And what could possibly be bad about that? Clearly Fischer and Suwanai understand where the music’s going: the performance gathers steam as it proceeds, and really cuts loose in that marvelous last movement. Suwani displays a characteristically polished technique and fine intonational ear (lending a lovely purity of utterance to the slow movement), but she’s not afraid to indulge in some “down and dirty” gypsy fiddling in the finale, or in the two Sarasate items that open the program.
This CD features two quite lovely piano quintets, beautifully played by a quartet of players from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Clifford Curzon at the piano. The first piece is by Antonin Dvorak, who composed two piano quintets. The first of these is a relatively early work that Dvorak composed in 1872 when he was 31. The second of his quintets was composed only 15 years later and remains one of his most popular chamber works. The other piece on the CD is by César Franck and, along with his other major chamber works - the violin sonata and the string quartet - reminds the listener of the atmosphere of Franck's best known work, the symphony in d minor.