Dvorak: Violin Concerto in A minor; Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Violin Concerto in A minor; Piano Trio in F minor, Op. 65
PERFORMER: Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Alexander Melnikov (piano); Prague Philharmonia/Jiri Belohlávek
For a composer of music of such evident spontaneity, it is perhaps surprising to learn that Dvorák was, on occasion, a near-compulsive reviser. Both works on this thoughtfully planned disc were much transformed before reaching a final form. The Violin Concerto, with considerate assistance from Brahms’s violinist friend Joachim, underwent numerous revisions, though Dvorák resisted his publisher’s assistant’s suggestion to detach the first and second movements, a wise decision since the link between them is one of the most expressive passages in the work. When first he completed the F minor Trio, his weightiest work in the genre, Dvorák thought it had not a superfluous note, but cold reflection prompted all manner of improvements. In both cases the result were scores that are both considered while yet retaining passion and spontaneity. The Violin Concerto is given a dazzling ensemble performance, a clear meeting of minds between soloist, conductor and orchestra. Isabelle Faust’s exultant solo playing, magnificently matched by the orchestra, is hugely infectious; in short, a performance to treasure and one very close to the head of the field. The Trio, recorded rather too vividly, is given a passionate, compelling performance, though a tendency to over-emphasise points of articulation makes the second and fourth movements a touch enervating. Jan Smaczny