Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B minor; Silent Woods; Rondo in G minor, Op. 94; Slavonic Dance in G minor, Op. 46/8

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Cello Concerto in B minor; Silent Woods; Rondo in G minor, Op. 94; Slavonic Dance in G minor, Op. 46/8
PERFORMER: Heinrich Schiff (cello), André Previn (piano); Vienna PO/André Previn
CATALOGUE NO: 434 914-2 DDD
There is nothing more romantically beautiful in the repertoire than the Dvorák Cello Concerto. Completed in America in 1895 and first heard in London the following year, it’s an autumnal outpouring of endlessly lyrical impulse, of the most sensitively intimate autobiographical remembrance and yearning. Beauty, lyricism and intimacy have always distinguished Schiff’s account of it. Even more so than his earlier recording (with Colin Davis and the Concertgebouw), his new version is a reading of spaciously mature poetry, emotionally responsive yet structurally taut, yielding yet never self-indulgent. He lets the music speak for itself, pointing asides no less than great moments with loving care and ravishing tone. Previn and the Vienna Philharmonic provide an understanding support.

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Impressive as this is, the fill-ups – the original version of the Rondo, Op. 94, and arrangements of Silent Woods and the eighth Slavonic Dance made by Dvorák in 1892 – almost steal the show. Schiff paces them with instinctive charm and tension, his insight and musicality matched by Previn in effortlessly sympathetic, listening form (one tends to forget just how good a pianist and chamber partner he is).

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This is a nostalgically bloomed recording, made in the Musikverein, with Martha de Francisco in charge as producer, joint balance engineer and editor. Plenty of air, keenly focused orchestral detail and warm piano sound. Ates Orga