Dvorák and Suk performed by violinist Christian Tetslaff

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COMPOSERS: Antonín Dvorák; Josef Suk
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorák • Suk
WORKS: Dvorák: Violin Concerto; Romance; Suk: Fantasy
PERFORMER: Christian Tetzlaff (violin); Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/John Storgårds
CATALOGUE NO: Ondine ODE 1279-5 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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As Dvorák’s career blossomed in the late 1870s, he listened wisely to influential supporters. While writing his Violin Concerto he took extensive advice from the violinist Joseph Joachim, reshaping the work almost certainly to its advantage. However, he resisted his publisher’s counsel to lose the link between the first and second movements, one of the Concerto’s loveliest passages. For all the care Dvoπák took over the work, it has an irresistible, spontaneous lyricism from the opening bars onwards – a quality evident in this performance.

John Storgårds and the Helsinki Philharmonic provide attentive and flexible accompaniment, and Tetzlaff’s tone throughout is unfailingly beautiful. This approach works very well in the slow movement and for much of the finale. In the first movement, though, the tendency to slow down in the more lyrical passages often obscures the bigger structural picture. As a whole, this well recorded account will appeal to those who favour the Romantic over the Classical, but for comparably superb playing with a clearer sense of line, Isabelle Faust with Jiπí B∑lohlávek on Harmonia Mundi offers a more complete experience. Christian Tetzlaff’s ardour works very well in Dvoπák’s Romance, a felicitous reworking for violin and orchestra of a melodious if slightly awkward quartet movement, and his performance of Suk’s Fantasy with its excitable tempo changes is near ideal.

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Jan Smaczny