Dvorak: Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33; The Water Goblin, Op. 107

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33; The Water Goblin, Op. 107
PERFORMER: Jenö Jandó (piano)Polish National RSO/Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550896 DDD
After the early, first cello concerto of 1865, Dvorák’s Piano Concerto is the least well known of his works in the form. While it’s unlikely to gain the popularity of the Violin and (second) Cello Concerto, the Piano Concerto has very real charms. The melodic material is delightful and the slow movement, with its fascinating pre-echoes of the New World Symphony, is a winner. A major reason for the concerto eluding the general repertoire is the solo part – at times unnecessarily demanding, at others insufficiently brilliant. For my taste, for all its moments of awkwardness, Dvorák’s solo writing usually opts for delicacy rather than overstatement.

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Bearing this in mind, Jenö Jandó’s reading is problematic. For much of the first two movements he sticks, with the odd exception, to Dvorák’s text. In the finale he often favours Vilém Kurz’s well-meaning improved version, or occasionally his own solution. Notwithstanding these compromises, he is an eloquent advocate and the Polish National RSO of Katowice plays with genuine passion, if on occasion without unanimity. Not a standard recommendation, but by no means a disgrace. Jan Smaczny