Dvorak: Cello Concerto in B minor; Silent Woods; Slavonic Dances, Op. 46/3 & 8; Rondo in G minor; Polonaise in A

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Cello Concerto in B minor; Silent Woods; Slavonic Dances, Op. 46/3 & 8; Rondo in G minor; Polonaise in A
PERFORMER: Ofra Harnoy (cello), Michael Dussek (piano), Prague SO/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68186 2 DDD
RCA’s latest Ofra Harnoy record is, as usual, plastered with sultry poses of the cellist in a manner which is either enticing and imaginative or tacky and irrelevant (depending on your point of view). That said, the programme is an eminently sensible one, featuring as it does all Dvorák’s works for the solo cello. The Concerto and the G minor Rondo were specially composed for the Czech cellist Hanus Wihan, for whom Dvorák also made cello and piano reductions of his piano duet Silent Woods (though Harnoy opts for the later, orchestral version) and the G minor Slavonic Dance. The first thing you notice about the performance of the Concerto is the fine playing of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and this remains good throughout – hardly surprising with Charles Mackerras, himself almost an honorary Czech, in charge. Harnoy’s playing is always musical and technically secure. But it’s not a particularly beautiful sound (nor, I suspect, an especially big one, though the relatively close microphone placing makes up for this), and there’s too little personality on display when compared with, say, Truls Mørk (Virgin) or Heinrich Schiff (Philips). Still, the shorter pieces are interesting to hear, and the disc is, on the whole, well recorded. Stephen Maddock

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