Dvorak: Violin Sonata in F, Op. 57; Sonatina in G, Op. 100; Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Sonata in F, Op. 57; Sonatina in G, Op. 100; Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood (violin) Susan Tomes (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66934

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Spanning 20 years of Dvorák’s career, these enchanting works are as sweeping and lyrical as one might expect, while reflecting the composer’s changing stylistic preoccupations. The Sonatina in G, written during Dvorák’s stay in the United States, recalls spirituals in its pentatonic, plaintive melodies. Although not virtuosic, it demands immaculate articulation, which Anthony Marwood delivers expertly, with a rich, creamy tone. The Ballad is warmly introspective, but the lavish melodies of the Four Romantic Pieces, originally written for two violins and viola, suffer from the unadventurous texture of this arrangement, dominated by the violin. More compelling is the Sonata in F: echoes of Brahms abound in its declamatory melodies, but its beauty lies in Dvorák’s capacity for the most understated and expansive of phrases. Susan Tomes’s eloquence of touch is particularly fine, and the players’ attention to expressive detail makes this performance thoroughly appealing. Familiar in various guises, including an appearance as the slow movement of the String Quintet in G, the Nocturne also works well in the present medium. Wistful, rhapsodic and inventive, it is the most elusive of these works, and perhaps the most alluring. As elsewhere, Tomes and Marwood play with sensitivity and a broad palette of expressive colouring. Catherine Nelson