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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Stabat Mater (1883) [93:01]
Serenade for strings Op.22 (1875) [27:14]
Kim Borg (bass); Věra Soukupová (alto); Stefania Woytowicz (soprano); Ivo Žídek (tenor)
Prague Philharmonic Choir/Joseph Veselka
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Václav Smetáček
English Chamber Orchestra/Rafael Kubelík (Serenade)
rec. 15-20 December 1961, Rudolfinum, Prague (Stabat); 28-30 May 1969, Wembley Town Hall, London (Serenade). ADD
Track-list at end of review
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94081 [65:05 + 66:02]

Experience Classicsonline


These are staples of the analogue catalogue and once again pass muster despite some five decades of time’s wingèd chariot. Smetáček’s Stabat Mater has rarely been off the shelves since its first issue and no wonder. There are, quite naturally, many sweeter-toned newer recordings but you would be doing yourself no disservice to become familiar with this work in this version. Originally it was a Supraphon product; indeed you can still obtain it as Supraphon Archiv SU 3775-2 212. It also emerged on DG whence the current coupling derives. The singing has both fervour and breathing distance so that orchestral eloquence is never obscured. It is laid out here across two discs in ten tracks. All the soloists are staunchly intense but with the exception of the Polish soprano Woytowicz none are immune from wobble. It’s quite an operatic work - Verdian even - and affectingly passionate in Quis est homo (tr.2). Hallmark Dvořák ideas abound. Grand it may be but this is Dvořák and his folk heritage and lightness of spirit keeps surfacing as it does in the lovingly rounded Tui nati vulnerati with its echoes of the Wind Serenade. Fiery conviction burns through the Virgo Virginum movement. There’s a war-like defiance from Soukupova in the Inflammatus. Dvořák holds Victorian fustian at bay through his passionate writing for voices and especially his succulent writing for wind instruments.

All that religious fervour can be allowed to relax when it comes to Kubelik’s reading of the String Serenade. Interestingly Kubelik himself recorded the Stabat Mater with Bavarian Radio in 1976 and this has been released on DG 000289 453 0252 2. It’s another gentle reading of a gentle piece. The downside is that the years have dealt unkindly with the sound of the English Chamber Orchestra strings. Their slender amplitude has now acquired an edginess which blunts the smile on the proceedings. Even so the stereo separation is nicely put across. The tempo di valse is gracious nonetheless. There is a liner note from Emanuel Overbeeke but no sung words. I still have fond memories of the Dvořák played by the Sinfonia of London conducted by the creator of the Upstairs Downstairs theme tune, Alexander Faris. It was issued on LP by Classics for Pleasure.
 
A nice set but not compelling.
 
Rob Barnett 

Tracklisting
Stabat mater
I. Stabat Mater Dolorosa 22:55
II. Quis est homo, qui non fleret 11:03
III. Eia mater, fons amoris 7:53
IV. Fac ut ardeat cor meum 9:11
V. Tui nati vulnerati 7:07
VI. Fac me vere tecum flere 6:56
VII. Virgo Virginum Praeclara 7:14
VIII. Fac ut portem Christi mortem 5:35
IX. Inflammatus et accensus 6:51
X. Quando corpus morietur 8:16

Serenade
I. Moderato 4:34
II. Tempo di valse 6:17
III. Scherzo: Vivace 5:24
IV. Larghetto 5:05
V. Finale: Allegro vivace 5:54 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


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