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Bohemian Tales

Augustin Hadelich (violin), et al; Bavarian Radio Orchestra/Jakub Hrůša (Warner Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Bohemian Tales
Dvořák: Violin Concerto, Op .53*; Romantic Piece, Op. 75/4; Songs My Mother Taught Me, Op. 55/4; Humoresqe, Op. 101/7 (arr. Kreisler); Janáček: Violin Sonata; Suk: 4 Pieces, Op. 17
Augustin Hadelich (violin), Charles Owen (piano); Bavarian Radio Orchestra/Jakub Hrůša*
Warner Classics 9029527476   81:29 mins


The title of this recording, Bohemian Tales, is a misnomer. None of the pieces by Dvořák have anything to do with folklore and although Janáček’s violin sonata, given here in its second version of 1922, was prompted by Russian advances early in World War I, as a proud Moravian he would not have relished the work being described as Bohemian.  Nevertheless this well-filled disc has much to offer. Hadelich’s way with Dvořák’s concerto is highly expressive and flawless in attention to details of articulation: the prime beneficiary of this approach is the slow movement and in particular the exquisite link into it from the first movement. However, his tendency to linger over certain passages in the first movement hampers forward impetus. This is a pity since Hrůša and the orchestra are exemplary accompanists providing a wealth of ear-catching instrumental detail. While enjoyable from many points of view this performance does not measure up to Isabelle Faust’s superb recording on Harmonia Mundi.

Full-throated in tone and impassioned throughout, Hadelich’s performance of the Janáček Violin Sonata, expertly accompanied by Charles Owen, is entirely captivating with a clear feeling for Janáček’s operatic sense of narrative. He is equally successful in capturing the elusive tone of Suk’s Four Pieces. Composed in 1900, they blend some surprisingly dissonant gestures with lyricism of extraordinary sweetness. The slightly forward recorded sound suits the piano and violin contributions well, but sadly the performance of the concerto is not on the same exalted level as the chamber works.


Jan Smaczny