One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley n/a
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for Ł12 postage paid world-wide.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841–1904)
Three Modern Greek Poems, Op. 50 (B.84b, 1883) [12:54]
Gypsy Songs, Op. 55 (B.104, 1880)[13:45]
Biblical Songs, Op. 99 (B.185, 1894) [26:30]
Adam Plachetka (bass-baritone)
Gary Matthewman (piano)
rec. 4-5 August 2014, studio No. 1, Czech Radio, Prague
No texts enclosed
RADIOSERVIS CR07292 [53:40]

A powerful bass-baritone, dramatic expression – a Mephisto voice if you like. It will not surprise me if Adam Plachetka, who made his debut at the National Theatre in Prague in 2005, steps up to that repertoire before long. So far he has been singing a lot of Mozart, also since he became a permanent member of the Vienna State Opera in 2010. Today he is also frequently seen as a guest at Covent Garden, The Met and will make his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the 2015/16 season. His is certainly a powerful voice but he can also scale it down for the intimate moments. His soft singing is smooth and beautiful. Listen to the middle song in Op. 50, Nereids, which is the equivalent of the slow movement in a symphonic work.

It is interesting to learn from the excellent liner-notes, that the cycle was first performed with orchestra but that, unfortunately, the orchestral score is lost. The big-boned music actually cries out for orchestra but I do admit that Gary Matthewman makes the most of the dramatic piano part.

The critics at the time of the first performance took Dvorak to task 'for coupling the translation of an exotic text in an inorganic manner with purely Slavonic music'. I quite agree. The music here is a far cry from the typical Dvorak melos, and this becomes even clearer when we move over to the Gypsy Songs. These are melodically not very ‘Gypsy-like’ and include the best known of Dvorak’s songs, Songs my mother taught me. The lively No. V is arguably the closest to gypsy style. They are indeed charming, the whole group and the final song, Give the hawk a fine cage is second cousin to, say, Brahms’ Hungarian dances. It is interesting to learn that the singer who commissioned the songs and also premiered them on 4 February 1881 was Viennese tenor Gustav Walter, one of the earliest born singers to have his voice preserved on record.

The Biblical songs were composed in 1894, just four months after the New York premiere of the New World Symphony. They are inward and here sensitively interpreted. I have long admired Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s recording of the songs, and Adam Plachetkas’s reading in no way supplants that of the older master, but Fischer-Dieskau only recorded six of them, while Plachetka sings all ten. He sings in the original language, whereas Fischer-Dieskau’s is in a German translation.

These songs must be counted among Dvorak’s most personal creations and Adam Plachetka’s readings are deeply involved. The final song, so full of joy, is a great conclusion to the cycle as well as to the whole disc. The recording is faultless.

Göran Forsling

Track listing
Three Modern Greek Poems, Op. 50 (B.84b, 1883) [12:54]
1. I. Koljas (Klepht song) [3:37]
2. II. Nereids (Ballad) [4:53]
3. III. Parga’s lament (Heroic song) [4:28]
Gypsy Songs, Op. 55 (B.104, 1880)[13:45]
4. I. My song of love rings through the dusk [2:44]
5. II. Hey! Ring out, my triangle [1:16]
6. III. All round about the woods are still [3:03]
7. IV. When my mother taught me songs she cherished dearly [2:17]
8. V. Come and join the dancing, pipes and fiddle follow [1:12]
9. VI. Wide the sleeves and trousers of the gypsy songman [1:21]
10. VII. Gove a hawk a fine cage [1:15]
Biblical Songs, Op. 99 (B.185, 1894) [26:30]
11. I. Darkness and thunderclouds are round about him [2:15]
12. II. Lord my shield, my refuge and hope art thou [2:10]
13. III. Hear, oh hear my prayer, Lord my God [3:18]
14. IV. Oh, my shepherd is the Lord [2:44]
15. V. Songs of gladness will I sing thee [2:43]
16. VI. Hear, oh Lord, my bitter cry [3:06]
17. VII. By the shore of the river Babylon [3:19]
18. VIII. Oh, Lord, have mercy and turn thou thy face to me [2:46]
19. IX. My eyes will I to the hills lift up [2:19]
20. X. Oh, sing unto the Lord a joyful song [1:58]



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger