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Antonin Dvorak: Silent Woods: Original works and transcriptions for cello and piano.

Antonin Dvorak

Silent Woods: Original works and transcriptions for cello and piano

Christian Poltera--cello, Kathryn Stott--piano. Text: English, German, French. Recorded: Jan. 2011, Studio Gartnerstrasse, Berlin. Released: 2012. TT: 64:35. 1 SACD BIS-1947.


Dvorak's scarce works for cello and piano have to date been recorded in their entirety by a few cellists, of whom Jiri Barta is the only one who can boast of a complete set of Dvorak cello pieces, including the early Concerto in A major (SU 11 1467-2131). In September 2012, these were joined by a new SACD by the Swiss cellist Christian Poltera and the British pianist Kathryn Stott, who added to Dvorak's Polonaise in A major, B. 94, Rondo in G minor, Op. 94, B. 171, and Silent Woods, Op. 68/5, B. 173, Poltera's adaptations of the Sonatina in G major, Op. 100, B. 183, the final movement of the Romantic Pieces, Op. 75, B. 150, three famous songs with piano accompaniment, and a new arrangement of the Song to the Moon from the first Act of the opera Rusalka. The Zurich native Poltera, a pupil of Nancy Chumachenco, Boris Pergamenschikow and Heinrich Schiff, has appeared with leading European orchestras and also performed with ensembles performing on historical instruments, with the most significant being Gardiner's Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. His repertoire includes numerous engrossing cello works (Dvorak, Martin, Honegger, Lutoslawski), which he has played to great acclaim on his 1711 Mara cello from Antonio Stradivari's workshop.

Whereas the present SACD is Christian Poltdra's first Dvorak disc, Kathryn Stott has previously recorded two albums featuring the composer's pieces (Chandos CHAN 10493, Supraphon SU 3909-2), and in 2007 she made a recital Smetana CD for Chandos (CHAN 10430). The SACD opens with Dvorak's Sonatina, which sounds graceful, not only in the second movement, Larghetto, whose broad cantilenas perhaps come across with the cello even more poignantly than in the original violin version. The first movement contains something childishly clumsy, the third as interpreted by Poltera is a canny ditty, while the finale possesses frolicsome brilliance, although the composer's instructions as to the dynamics are respected. The second and third pieces on the disc are the Rondo and Silent Woods, adorned with pleasant rubatos against the backdrop of the piano's rhythmically solid accompaniment. Whereas the song adaptations or the Sonatina as performed by Poltera sound modest and concentrated, in the Rondo the artists relish the virtuoso passages, becomingly combined with a flaring cantilena. The fourth and fifth pieces on the disc are Poltera's arrangements of Dvorak's popular Songs My Mother Taught Me and Good Night, My Darling from the cycles Gypsy Songs, Op. 55, B. 104, and In Folk Tone, Op. 73, B. 146. As adapted and delivered by Poltera, they are winsome gems; and I have the impression that their cello versions are closer to the human voice and more forcible than those in the recent recording made by Josef Suk and Vladimir Askhenazy for Toccata Classics (TOCC0100). The disc continues with the Polonaise in A major, interpreted by Poltera and Stott with appropriate virtuosity and effectiveness. The final compositions on the recording, made in co-production with German Radio, are the Larghetto in G minor from the Romantic Pieces, Rusalka's Song to the Moon and Lass mich allein from the cycle Four Songs, Op. 82, B. 157. In the latter, the thirty-six-year-old Swiss cellist boldly competes with his German peer Jan Vogler, who included a similar arrangement on his 2005 recording of the Cello Concerto in B minor for Sony Classical (82876730142). The approximately one-hour-long SACD, furnished with a pleasing graphic design, informative booklet and track list, including the sequencing of Dvorak's works in Burghauser's Thematic Catalogue, was recorded in a high quality in January 2011 at Berlin's Studio Gartnerstrasse.
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Author:Jemelka, Martin
Publication:Czech Music
Article Type:Sound recording review
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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