Classical music listeners resort to ethnic and national generalizations too often. Some of the most insightful Beethoven interpreters were French, and there are plenty of classic non-Czech recordings of Dvorák. Yet there's something uniquely satisfying about this version of the much-recorded Slavonic Dances (both sets, Op. 46 and Op. 72), and the satisfaction has something to do with the all-Czech origins. Take for example the match between the superb sound, recorded in Prague's Rudolfinium hall, and the texture of Jirí Belohlávek's Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, an ensemble he has molded into his own.
Antonin Dvorák's Piano Quartet No. 2 is one of the greatest chamber works of the 19th century (as are many of Dvorák's chamber compositions). Written in 1889 at the request of his publisher Simrock, it is a big, bold work filled with the Czech master's trademark melodic fecundity, harmonic richness, and rhythmic vitality. The first movement is a soaring, outdoor allegro with an assertively optimistic main theme accented by Czech contours and Dvorák's love of mixing major and minor modes. The Lento movement's wistful main theme is played with a perfect mixture of passion and poise by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The music alternates between passages of drama and delicacy in this, one of Dvorák's finest slow movements in any medium. The Scherzo's stately waltz is contrasted by a lively, up-tempo Czech country dance. The finale is a high-stepping, high-spirited allegro with a strong rhythmic pulse that relaxes for the beautifully lyrical second subject. The development is a satisfying combination of motivic variety and strict structural logic. Dvorák packs a lot of music into this movement that lasts less than seven minutes. Ma and colleagues Isaac Stern, Jaime Laredo, and Emanuel Ax bring the same excitement, virtuosity, and cohesiveness to this work as they did in their recordings of the Brahms piano quartets.
American cellist Alisa Weilerstein, described by BBC Music Magazine as “one of the most extraordinary” soloists of her generation, follows her critically acclaimed Decca debut recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with a vital new interpretation of Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, coupled with some of his best-known melodies. Alisa Weilerstein’s all-Dvorák programme includes the haunting melody from his “New World” Symphony, popularly known as Going Home; his song Lasst mich allein, the beautiful Silent Woods and more…
A new Dvorák symphony and concerto cycle from the multi-Gramophone-Award-winning conductor and the great Prague-based orchestra. It marks a triumphant return to the orchestra where he trained, the world leading and multi-Gramophone Award-winning maestro Jirí Bìlohlávek records Decca’s first Dvorák cycle since the 1960s. This complete symphonies and concertos set is a pinnacle of brilliant music-making, and the first major cycle to be recorded in high-definition 24bit 96kHz and Mastered for iTunes sound.
In 2004 Bernarda Fink released a recording of Dvorák songs that was awarded critical plaudits internationally. Now, eight years later, she returns to the composer, in the company of young soprano Genia Kühmeier, to sing 13 of the Moravian Duets which brought the young musician fame far beyond his homeland. The other two cycles, for solo voice, round out the portrait of a Dvorák still attached to musical traditions, whether sacred (Biblical Songs) or secular (Gypsy Melodies).