> DVORAK Music for Violin and Piano 2 8554730 [JW]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonin DVORAK (1841-1904)
Music for Violin and Piano Volume 2

Ballad in D Minor Op 15 No 1
Slavonic Dance in G Minor Op 46 No 2 (arr Kreisler)
Slavonic Dance in E Minor Op 72 No 10 (arr Kreisler)
Slavonic Dance in G Major Op 72 No 16 (arr Kreisler)
Silent Woods Op 68 No 5
Mazurek in E Minor Op 49
Nocturne in B Major Op 40
Humoresque Op 101 No 7
Songs my mother taught me Op 55 No 4 (arr Kreisler)
Capriccio (Rondo di Concerto) B81
Reverie Op 85 No 6 (arr Klengel)

Qian Zhou (violin)
Edmund Battersby (piano)
Recorded Potton Hall Suffolk May 1999
NAXOS 8.554730 [54.58]


In the second volume of their Naxos series Zhou and Battersby programme some warhorses – many of Kreislerian stamp – with more unusual, recondite pieces. If this makes for a somewhat uneasy disc – in terms of genre and stylistic disparities – it serves to sustain interest throughout its length.

Zhou employs a number of expressive devices to heighten moments of lyric intensity and she has a good control of dynamic gradation, a quality equally shared by Battersby. Especially worthy of note is her veiled tone – most explicitly used in the Op 15 Ballad – which imparts a softened texture to her tonal resources. In this she is joined by Edmund Battersby – listen to his subtle range of dynamics, left and right hand alike, in one of the well-loved Slavonic Dances, the G Minor. The two musicians’ basic impulse is good in the G Major dance but the pizzicato ending could have been less deadpan and rather more wittily pointed. Silent woods originally began as a piano duet and is better known in the cello arrangement. Here, though, both musicians are alive to its evocative lyricism even if this arrangement will never efface the lower voicings of the larger instrument. The Nocturne is a relatively early work and somewhat meandering and unfocused – well though they both try to evoke its melodic contours it still emerges impossibly diffuse whereas the Humoresque’s lyrical central section is attacked with relish – though not always optimum tonal allure. Zhou isn’t afraid to turn on the heat in the Kreisler arrangement of Songs my mother taught me – passionate and evocative playing though maybe excessively so for some tastes. It’s especially interesting to hear the Capriccio (Rondo di Concerto) which is an immature work, unpublished in Dvorak’s lifetime. It is couched in a familiar Konzertstuck manner, essentially Germanic, bristling with rhetorical devices and a battery of textbook Romantic virtuoso tricks which this piano arrangement does nothing to disguise (the version for violin and orchestra is, apparently, lost**). It’s simultaneously a piece both too big for its boots and too insignificant for rediscovery. Convincingly played, though. A rather miscellaneous recital then but with committed performances and in a reasonable acoustic it is frequently of considerable interest.

Jonathan Woolf

** We have received information via our bulletin board that the orchestral score is not at all lost!
The Dvorak Konzertstuck was played in a dazzling manner, with Italian Television Orchestra conducting Leopold Ludwig by Aldo Ferraresi, the best Ysaye's pupil, in 1967.

See review of Volume 1


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