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A recording of two of Dvorak’s most loved works together on disc – the Symphony No.9 in E minor “From the New World” and his Cello Concerto in B minor.
These two works are not often paired together on recordings. They were recorded live during the 11/12 Santa Cecilia season.
Dvorak wrote the 9th symphony following a trip to America. It is imbued with the rhythms of native American immigrant folk music cast in the language of the 19th century romantic musical language. Antonio Pappano, born in America but working in the European tradition, sees this piece in new and fresh ways because of his own heritage. This is the first time Pappano has conducted the 9th symphony, although he has admired the work for years.
This will also be a rare recording of the first edition of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, completed in 1895 - before he accepted a few of the numerous changes suggested by his cellist friend Hanuš Wihan (to whom Dvorak dedicated the work), It is far less frequently heard and, according to Dmitry Markevitch (the respected Russian concert cellist, researcher, teacher and musicologist) “much more musical”.
Dvorak wrote the concerto towards the end of his highly productive stay in America – he was in New York for his third term as the Director of the National Conservatory. He was inspired after hearing the second cello concerto by Victor Herbert - a fellow teacher at the Conservatory – 1894. Up till then Dvorák had always refused, stating that the cello was a fine orchestral instrument but totally insufficient for a solo concerto.
The concerto smacks of the anticipatory pleasures that Dvorák felt at the prospect of returning home. It opens with a large-scale and dramatically powerful Allegro, before striking a more dreamy note in the Andante and culminating in a fast and furious finale with folk-like elements from Bohemia - a compositorial greeting from the New World to Dvorák's distant homeland.
It is performed by the renowned Italian cellist Mario Brunello. He won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1986 – the first Italian to ever do so, and has been catching the attention of musical authorities, including Maestro Pappano, ever since. He tours in Europe, America & Japan, appearing with leading orchestras and conductors (eg Semyon Bychkov, Myung-Whun Chung, Daniele Gatti and Valeri Gergiev).
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 'From the New World'
I. Adagio - Allegro molto
III. Scherzo, molto vivace
IV. Finale: Allegro con fuoco
Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
II. Adagio ma non troppo
III. Finale: Allegro moderato
“It is clear from the outset that melody is uppermost in Antonio Pappano's interpretation of the New World. The opening theme is phrased with great tenderness which makes the arrival of the louder, more dynamic material of the introduction a genuine shock. This balance of drama and lyricism makes for some compelling listening in all four movements. Where it falls down is in a slightly literal approach to development.”
Awards Issue 2012
“[Brunello] plays with great spirit and no little poetry; and, if he is not the most commandingly articulate, tonally seductive or full-throated protagonist...he generates a personable rapport with Sir Antonio Pappano...it's easy to like a performance whose heart is always in the right place...The account of the New World boasts comparable virtues, being abundantly characterful, pliable and consistently involving”
2nd December 2012
“Never has the New World Symphony sounded less like a jaded old warhorse than in this vital, unfailingly musical account. Not even Pappano can prevent the finale seeming a letdown, but his élan, scrupulous dynamic control and attention to detail give delight.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.