> Antonin Dvorak - Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904)
Violin Concerto (1883)
Cello Concerto (1894)
Isaac Stern (violin)
Leonard Rose (cello)
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy
rec Philadelphia ADD, no dates given but mid-1950s to 1960s


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Dvorak's three concertos were written in 1876 (piano), 1883 (violin) and 1894 (cello). Like Gerald Finzi, another transcendental national lyric composer, Dvořák's last orchestral work was a cello concerto.

Both works are given the customary weight by the Philadelphian strings. In fact Ormandy encourages a strong symphonic approach to these two works. This is the orchestral equivalent of a sleek Bentley. The Cello Concerto emerges best of the two works. However first to the Violin Concerto. This is a work I have always felt affectionate towards. My reference set is the Supraphon recording with Josef Suk. The Sony has Stern in place of Suk. Stern's touch of schmaltz and flashiness sometimes jars in such a cleanly rustic nationalist work. However there is much to take pleasure in too. At 10.12 in the first movement no-one, not even Suk, achieves that moment of pulse-stilling calm. Another example is the needle-fragile crystal glass dance Stern evokes at the start of the Allegro giocoso. This is a good interpretation but the age of the recording tells against it marginally but noticeably.

Leonard Rose is ripe, noble, brilliant, edgy, resinous of tone and exciting and he brings all the strengths that we know from his Sony recording of the Brahms Double Concerto. The sound quality is a notch or two above that for the other Dvořák work on this disc but still grainy in texture.

Decent notes (regrettably minus any details of when and where these were recorded) and bargain price complete the picture of a coupling whose greatest strength lies with the Cello Concerto.

Rob Barnett

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