Dvorak: The Jacobin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Orfeo
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorák: The Jacobin
WORKS: The Jacobin
PERFORMER: Christoph Stephinger, Marcin Bronikowski, Mark Holland, Andrea Danková, Peter Mikulás, Michal Lehotsky, Mechthild Georg, Eberhard Francesco Lorenz, Lívia Ághová; Prague Chamber Choir, WDR Radio Choir and SO, Köln/Gerd Albrecht
CATALOGUE NO: 641 043 F
The Jakobin is Dvoák’s greatest comic opera. At first he felt the libretto, so firmly rooted in rural Bohemia, would limit the work’s appeal, but ultimately this open-hearted celebration of a prodigal’s return and the healing power of music prompted one of his most richly textured scores. The rehearsal scene of Act II, with its captivating children’s chorus, looms largest in impressions of the opera, but it also includes perhaps Dvoák’s most passionate duet, for the young lovers Jií and Terinka, and stirring melody for the hero Bohu>= and his wife Julie.

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Albrecht’s reading is superbly assured and he has some fine singers in his cast, notably Marcin Bronikowski in the lead role of Bohu>=. Lívia Ághová is also splendid as the town beauty, Terinka. On the other hand, Eberhard Francesco Lorenz’s clear voice does not really capture the essence of the elderly school master, Benda, and Peter Mikulás as the revolting official, Filip, one of Dvoák’s great comic creations, is also disappointing. The recording seems to have been made in rather ambient surroundings and the chorus, particularly in the latter parts of Act II, could have been much more forward. Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy here, although as a whole Pinkas’s recording on Supraphon, with definitive performances from Blachut and Berman as Benda and Filip respectively, still has a considerable edge. Jan Smaczny