As with his mentor Brahms, song was vital to Dvorák. Almost throughout his career, he produced some superbly crafted lyrics, among them one of his most celebrated works, ‘Songs my mother taught me’, the fourth of the Gypsy Songs recorded here. This thoughtfully assembled recital presents a range of his songs: the Moravian Duets delighted Europe in the late 1870s and propelled Dvorák to international fame. The Gypsy Songs, originally to German texts, build, with greater sophistication, on the national accent apparent in the Duets. The Biblical Songs, composed in the US when Dvorák was feeling distinctly homesick, have astonishing poignancy.
Bernarda Fink has clearly thought through the expressive language of these lovely songs, and Christoph Berner is a near-ideal accompanist. The Moravian Duets, sung with soprano Genia Kühmeier, are, over all, the most enjoyable part of this issue: expressive, resonant and brimming over with good humour. The Gypsy Songs are mostly attractive, although at times the tone is a touch attenuated. The Biblical Songs are delivered with care and sincerity, if not with the incandescent depth that Vera Soukupová produced in her classic recording. But these well recorded performances have much to recommend them.