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Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

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Dvorak & Schumann: Piano Concertos

Dvorak & Schumann: Piano Concertos


Dvorak:

Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33

Schumann:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Two more rich piano concertos from the unparalleled Stephen Hough and the CBSO (they’ve already won Gramophone’s Record of the Year award twice). The eminent Andris Nelsons conducts, making his Hyperion debut. Schumann and Dvořák each wrote just one piano concerto, the latter being performed here in its fearsomely challenging original version.

“Andris Nelsons and the CBSO clearly relish the symphonic nature of the [Dvorak] and their playing is one of the great pleasures here…Hough enters the conversation with great subtlety and he's certainly unafraid to point out the score's lyrical beauties, allowing the music to unfold with suppleness without underplaying its drama or, where required, heft” Gramophone Magazine, April 2016

“Few pianists have championed Dvorak’s early concerto, so when a player of Hough’s calibre does, one takes notice. He makes as good a case as I have heard for the work...Hough could hardly have more sympathetic partners than the CBSO and Nelsons. Worth owning for the Schumann alone.” Sunday Times, 17th April 2016

“Hough joins forces with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons for a robust, grand reading that nonetheless leaves room for lyricism and introspection…[but it's in the Dvorak] that Hough truly sparkles. There's glowing tenderness, irresistible buoyancy and soaring grandeur in the first movement, Grieg-like lyricism in the Andante sostenuto…while the Finale has infectious spirit. The CBSO's playing is smart and colourful.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2016 ****

“Hough's passagework is a model of clarity, never overpedalled, and you can really hear all of the intricacies and rhythmic quirks of Dvořák's writing. The contribution from the CBSO should in no way be underestimated either, thanks to Andris Nelsons's sensitive and sympathetic conducting...I constantly felt that everyone involved had exactly the same focus and artistic goals.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 1st April 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

1st April 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

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Dvorak & Suk - Piano Trios

Dvorak & Suk - Piano Trios


Dvorak:

Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 21 (B51)

Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor, Op. 26 (B56)

Suk:

Elegy for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 23

Suk’s beautiful Elegy Op 23, dating from 1902, was written for a memorial event celebrating the life of Julius Zeyer (1841–1901). Zeyer was a writer of novels and epic poems steeped in the history and legends of Bohemia. This work gives full voice to the composer’s rich lyricism.


“Excellently balanced and recorded, these performances, combined with a superbly intense reading of Suk's brief Elegy make for a very estimable issue.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2008 *****

“The Florestan are wonderfully sympathetic interpreters, catching the music’s youthful freshness and ardour with no false rhetoric. They take care to keep the textures uncluttered, phrase with a natural expressiveness, and show an idiomatic feel for the dance rhythms that pervade these trios. Both slow movements are intensely moving, with soft playing of rare intensity and subtlety, while the allegretto intermezzo in No 1 is deliciously airy. The yearning Elegy by Dvorak’s son-in-law, Josef Suk, makes a welcome and touching bonus” The Telegraph

“The Florestan Trio is one of the world’s leading piano trios, and imbues every performance and recording with the palpable joy and unerring sense of ensemble” The Times

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Dvorak: Cello Concertos

Dvorak: Cello Concertos


Dvorak:

Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104

with original ending

Four Songs, Op. 82: No. 1, ‘Leave Me Alone’

arranged for orchestra by B Leopold

Cello Concerto in A major, B10

revised and orchestrated by Günter Raphael


Hyperion is delighted to present the world’s best-loved cello concerto performed by one of the world’s best-loved cellists: national treasure Steven Isserlis. Isserlis has waited 40 years to record this pinnacle of the repertoire, and here with his regular collaborators, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Daniel Harding, this long gestation has proved to be overwhelmingly fruitful. Isserlis writes of the concerto that ‘the power of its emotional journey, expressed with Dvorák’s characteristically folk-like simplicity and directness, offers an irresistible mix of the epic and the touchingly confessional’. The combination of emotional power and simplicity is also a feature of Isserlis’s playing, and part of what makes him such a consummate performer of this work.

This album puts Dvorák’s B minor cello concerto in context, including not only the original ending, but an orchestral version of the song Lasst mich allein which is quoted in the concerto’s second and third movements.

Isserlis has also recorded a version of Dvorák’s first cello concerto, a little-known work from the composer’s early period which he never orchestrated. This version (in what is almost definitely its premiere recording) is by German composer Günter Raphael, whose works were performed by Furtwängler among others, and is extensively rewritten from the composer’s original. To turn to Isserlis’s own words again: ‘Of course, it is not a masterpiece on the level of the later B minor concerto; but is it fair to lock up an older child just because their younger sibling is a genius? I love the A major concerto for the beauty of its melodies, for the freshness of its inspiration, for its typically rustic spirit—and for the sense of sheer joy that bubbles through the entire work.’

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“his performance recalls the reckless abandon of the youthful Jacqueline du Pré in the work’s most extrovert passages, albeit tempered with the wisdom of experience and musical maturity...abetted by magically fresh music-making from Harding’s MCO.” Sunday Times, 29th September 2013

“The death of [Dvorak's] sister-in-law prompted the rewriting of the last movement of the later concerto, played, as is the whole, with a passion that is thrillingly balletic.” The Independent, 29th September 2013 *****

“Isserlis is on spellbindingly eloquent form in an entrancingly poetic and urgently communicative reading that really does sound like it's being captured on the wing...Harding and the Mahler CO are with him every step of the way; theirs is a real, breathing collaboration...Don't miss this special release.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2013

“this performance is remarkably fine and the interaction between soloist and orchestra generates one of the most exciting ensemble performances of recent years. Steven Isserlis is inside the piece from the start...this is a performance to treasure for its beauty and commitment.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 *****

“How wonderful to hear a familiar work sounding so fresh and potent. Steven Isserlis's Dvořák anthology is revelatory, in so many ways. There's the sumptious orchestral playing from Daniel Harding's Mahler Chamber Orchestra...Isserlis is terrific – blending security with spontaneity, his quiet playing so eloquent.” The Arts Desk, 9th November 2013

“The overriding impressions I gained in listening to the concerto, right from the outset, were of a confident and majestic treatment of the music, from both orchestra and soloist...This may be a disc built around performances by Steven Isserlis, but I must confess that for me the most delightful track is the orchestrated version of Dvořák’s own Lied, “Lasst mich allein”.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 30th September 2013

Presto Disc of the Week

30th September 2013

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2013

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - November 2013

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Dvorak: Music for violin & piano

Dvorak: Music for violin & piano


Dvorak:

Sonatina for violin and piano in G major, Op. 100

Ballad in D minor B139 (Op 15 No. 1)

Romantic Pieces (4) for Violin & Piano, Op. 75

Violin Sonata in F major, Op. 57 (B 106)

Nocturne in B major for violin & piano, Op. 40 (B48a)


Anthony Marwood (violin) & Susan Tomes (piano)

Dvorák's music for violin and piano comes from many periods in his career. An early Sonata in A minor of 1873 is lost. Of the works which do survive, several, including the Notturno and Four Romantic Pieces, are skilful arrangements of earlier works (the Notturno is a reworking of the central section of the E minor String Quartet, while the Four Pieces were originally written for viola and piano).

There are two extensive compositions exclusively for violin and piano: the Sonata in F major, interestingly designated by the composer as being for 'piano and violin', and the popular Sonatina in G major, composed during his stay in America. Both are models of perfection in this most relaxed of chamber-music genres.

The Ballad in D minor was composed in the autumn of 1884 specifically for publication in the Christmas edition of the London Magazine of Music and is a work with a tragic and passionate tone akin to that of the Seventh Symphony.

“This delectable Hyperion release enshrines music-making of sensitivity and eloquence” Gramophone Magazine

“Yet another unimpeachable release from the Hyperion stable” Classic CD

“The G major Sonatina, written in America, is a particular charmer, but the F major Sonata is also a work to enjoy, as is the ravishing Notturno. I can’t imagine them more beautifully and idiomatically played than in this reissued 1997 recording” Sunday Times, 3rd July 2011 ****

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Dvorak: Piano Quartets

Dvorak: Piano Quartets


Dvorak:

Piano Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op 23

Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat, Op. 87


“These are two very enjoyable works. Hans Keller's description of the opening pages of the E flat Quartet as 'childish' is staggering – this from the leading campaigner against 'posthumous critical torture'! Childlike would be much more suitable, and this appealing characteristic is well brought out by the members of Domus: Susan Tomes's descent from incisive fortissimo clarity to pianissimo mystery in the opening bars is a delight, and fully prophetic of the kind of musicianship we're to hear. Two other unforgettable moments from this performance: the lovely return of the first movement second subject, with its heart-easing B major/E flat major modulation – very sensitive use of rubato here – and cellist Richard Lester's richly expressive solos at the beginning of the Lento.
The D major Quartet is a delightful, if not fully mature piece – it does tend to rely rather heavily on sequence and repetition. Domus makes sure we don't miss any of its virtues, but it doesn't force anything: the timing in the magical opening shift from D major to B major is finely judged, and Dvorák's wonderfully effortless melodies are affectionately shaped and shaded; admirable too the way Susan Tomes finds so much beauty in what often looks like conventionally decorative piano writing. In general the sound is very pleasing, intimate enough to draw one right into the performances without being intimidating, even in the somewhat histrionic second theme of the E flat Quartet's Lento. A richly rewarding disc.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“This is real chamber-music playing: intimate and distinguished by both vitality and sensitivity.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

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Dvorak: Piano Quintet & String Quintet

Dvorak: Piano Quintet & String Quintet


Dvorak:

Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81

Susan Tomes (piano)

String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 77


The two works recorded here come from different periods in Dvorvák’s career. In the String Quintet in G he dispenses with a second viola, instead placing a double bass beneath the single cello, but textural richness is not the composer’s aim: one can listen to passages of the work without sensing any pointed differences from quartet texture.

Similarly, the success of the Piano Quintet in A rests on its happy reconciliation of forces. Dvorvák’s early attempts at composing for the piano had been hampered by his own lack of familiarity with the instrument, but in this work he achieves a remarkable fluency, with five instruments operating as consistent equals and in harmonious unity and balance.

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Dvorak - Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2

Dvorak - Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2


Dvorak:

Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 5

Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81


The performing team of Piers Lane and the Goldner String Quartet has won many plaudits for their enlightening interpretations of the obscurer piano quintet repertoire. Now they turn to a composer who triumphed in the genre.

Dvorák’s two piano quintets were written at different stages of the composer’s career: the first during a period of poverty and uncertainty, the second when the composer was approaching the zenith of his international fame.

The two quintets make a fascinating pairing here. Dvorák originally tore up his manuscript of the first; luckily the pianist at the premiere kept a copy. It is clearly a youthful work, showing something of the discursiveness of the early string quartets, a point noted by a critic at the premiere, but there is no doubting the confidence with which Dvorák handles the combination of piano and strings (doubly impressive since he did not possess a piano at this time), which in many places anticipates the instrumentation in the famous second piano quintet.

Dvorák’s second Piano Quintet was an immediate popular success at its first performance and has remained one of the best-loved examples of the genre. The premiere was given by four of the finest Czech string players of the day and the promising conductor and composer Karel Kovarovic at the piano. The celebrated ‘Dumka’ movement, the lyrical heart of the work, demonstrates the extraordinary command of melody that characterizes the composer’s symphonies.

Performances of technical polish and expressive power, sensitively recorded, combine to make this a chamber disc to treasure.

“This is music to cheer the heart and put a spring in your step...The Goldner Quartet from Australia has teamed up with British pianist Piers Lane in fine, characterful performances” The Telegraph, 5th March 2010

“The blend of voices - within the string quartet and between the strings and piano - is ideal, the Suffolk Potton Hall acoustic free enough to allow the instruments breathing space...Sound-wise, the Goldner Quartet achieve a warm and radiant pooled tone” Gramophone Magazine, May 2010

“The performers offer an immensely satistfying and unmannered performance.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2010 ****

“The early quintet...[is] performed here with splendid conviction by Piers Lane and his fellow Australians the Goldner Quartet...In the later quintet, with all its craft, there seems no effort, so spontaneously, so seamlessly does it move. The composer has found his voice, and the result is enchantment.” Sunday Times, 16th May 2010 ***

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Dvorak: Sonatina for Violin and Piano in G major, Op. 100, etc.

Dvorak:

Sonatina for Violin and Piano in G major, Op. 100

Ballad in D minor B139 (Op 15 No. 1)

Romantic Pieces (4) for Violin & Piano, Op. 75

Violin Sonata in F major, Op. 57 (B 106)

Nocturne in B major for violin & piano, Op. 40 (B48a)


Anthony Marwood (violin), Susan Tomes (piano)

'This delectable Hyperion release enshrines music-making of sensitivity and eloquence' (Gramophone)

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Dvorak: String Quartet & String Quintet

Dvorak: String Quartet & String Quintet


Dvorak:

String Quintet No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 'American'

Lawrence Power (viola)

String Quartet No. 14 in A flat major, Op. 105 (B193)


A new release from the Takács Quartet is guaranteed to be a highlight of the musical year, and this one easily exceeds all expectations. The ‘American’ quintet dates from Dvořák’s sojourn in the New World, the quartet from his return to old-world Prague; both are marvellous works, sounding here every bit the masterpieces they undoubtedly are.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

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Dvorak: String Quintet No. 3 & String Sextet

Dvorak: String Quintet No. 3 & String Sextet


Dvorak:

String Sextet in A major, Op. 48

String Quintet No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 'American'


Dvorák’s chamber music is one of the most popular parts of his repertoire and contains some classics of the genre. Thoroughly Romantic, endlessly imaginative and imbued with Slavonic fire, the String Quintet and String Sextet are elegantly performed by the virtuoso musicians of The Raphael Ensemble.

“Warmly effusive playing, captured in exquisite sound” American Record Guide

“Gloriously warm, sharply alert performances first released a quarter of a century ago. They sound fresh as ever, especially in movements like the sextet's Furiant, which bristles with joy and energy.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2013 *****

“Delightful works, delightfully played” Gramophone Magazine

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