The first volume of a project by Naxos to record all
the music Dvorák wrote for violin and piano between 1873 and
1893 provides a welcome opportunity to hear the composer in a more intimate
mood than in the orchestral works, for which he is better known. These
are mature compositions, full of lyrical beauty and ingenuity, and though
Brahmsís influence is easily detectable, especially in the Op.57 Sonata,
there is an authentic Slavonic lilt about all the music on this disc.
Dvorák himself appears to have been particularly
fond of the Romance Op.11, a graceful, flowing tune taken from
the slow movement of his F minor Quartet of 1873 and later arranged
it for violin and orchestra, the version which is now usually heard.
The Sonata is in a more heroic mould, and displays the rhythmic vitality
found in the faster passages of his symphonies. The Four Romantic
Pieces are again arrangements by the composer of a similar work
written only a week earlier in 1887, the Miniatures for two violins
and viola. The Sonatina. was composed in America, and completed
in 1893, a fortnight before The New World Symphony was first
performed in New York. Like the Symphony it is full of the nostalgia
Dvorák felt for his native country. As in much of Dvorákís
other chamber music, the innocent freshness of these works is untainted
The performances are technically secure, and take good
care of the essentially romantic nature of this attractive music, though
neither player is prepared to take risks and I, for one, would have
preferred a rather more uninhibited approach.
A disc that has more than passing interest to recommend
it, and promises similar pleasures from its successors in this series.