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Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Sonatina in G, B183 (arr. Poltéra) [19:51]
Rondo in G minor, B171 [7:24]
Silent Woods, B173 No. 5 [5:23]
Songs my mother taught me, B104 No. 4 [2:20]
Good night, B146 No. 1 [3:09]
Polonaise in A, B94 [8:12]
Larghetto in G minor, B150 No. 4 [5:51]
Song to the Moon from Rusalka [5:51]
Leave me alone, B157 No. 1 [4:34]
Christian Poltéra (cello); Kathryn Stott (piano)
rec. January 2011, Studio Gärtnerstraße, Berlin, Germany
BIS BIS-SACD-1947 [62:35]

Besides its gorgeous cover photo, this disc has three main attractions: Dvořák’s music, the comprehensiveness of the collection, and the cello playing of Christian Poltéra. None of them disappoint. We have here the usual Dvořák cello gold (Silent Woods, Rondo in G minor, the Polonaise), plus a number of arrangements by Poltéra himself: of the violin sonatina and four songs, including ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’ and the ‘Song to the Moon’ from Rusalka.
 
The sonatina has been arranged for cello before by Oscar Hartwieg, and Maria Kliegel recorded that version for Naxos. Poltéra’s playing is preferable almost everywhere; he has the perfect light touch in the opening tune, for instance, compared to Kliegel’s heavier, dour treatment. He also sounds more playful and ‘American’ in the sonatina’s finale. Hartwieg’s transcription has Kliegel several octaves higher in the scherzo.
 
The shorter works are all delights, from the rarely-played Larghetto in G minor to Poltéra’s lovely arrangement of the ‘Song to the Moon.’ I had thought Silent Woods more or less impossible to play poorly, but Ramon Jaffe’s lack-lustre account on CPO increases my appreciation for Poltéra’s polish and dignified style. If the CD’s encore looks unfamiliar (“Lasst mich allein”), you will find, upon hearing it, that it is the song which Dvořák quotes in his great concerto, in memory of his beloved sister-in-law. Poltéra and pianist Kathryn Stott are as sensitive as ever in this touching finale.
 
Basically, if you love Dvořák, and you love good cello playing, acquire this. Poltéra is an admirable performer, Kathryn Stott is a good partner, and the chance to hear so many of the composer’s gems on this instrument, played so well, is not to be missed. This disc is an ideal companion to the legendary concerto.
 
Brian Reinhart 

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