Dvorak - Overtures
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Cat No: PTC5186532
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 19th February 2016
WorksCarnival Overture, op.92 B169
Hussite: Overture, op.67 B132
In Nature's Realm, op.91 B168
My Home, op.62 B125a
Othello Overture, op.93 B174
ArtistsPKF – Prague Philharmonia
booklet to the album they are described as follows:
All five overtures on this recording are richly and vividly scored, employing palettes of instruments broader on average than those found in Dvořák’s mature symphonies and sometimes calling for special effects. For their orchestral colour but also their rich expression of poetic content, as well as their purely musical invention and structural mastery, these overtures constitute gems of special brilliance in the treasury of Dvořák’s compositional bequest.
The PKF – Prague Philharmonia recorded this album in January 2015 at the Forum Karlín in Prague under the baton of Jakub Hrůša, their Music Director and Chief Conductor from 2009-2015.
Nature, Life and Love (Příroda, život a láska):
1 In Nature’s Realm (V přírodě) Overture, op.91
2 Carnival Overture, op.92
3 Othello Overture, op.93
4 My Home (Můj domov) Overture, op.62
5 Hussite (Husitská) Overture, op.67
1In Nature's Realm Overture, op.91
2Carnival Overture, op.92
3Othello Overture, op.93
4My Home Overture, op.62
5Hussite Overture, op.67
Tetzlaff’s latest account of the Dvořák Concerto reaps the benefits of long experience: he knows every nook and cranny of this music, which he negotiates with a deft hand and a wide tonal palette. While never losing sight of the overall lightness of mood, he knows when to dig in a little more to the textures, bringing out the passion of the opening movement, and the drama of the hymn-like Adagio’s central minor-key section (aided by some exquisite wooodwind and horn playing). The finale is a real delight, properly giocoso for the rondo theme, but with nicely contrasted episodes in between. There’s a taut muscularity to the Tetzlaff’s tone that with any other performer might sit ill with Dvořák’s music, but he knows exactly when and how best to deploy it (the minor-key gypsy-like theme in the third movement is a case in point), and it raises the stature of the work as a whole.
The Romance then provides the loveliest of foils to close the disc, in a performance of melting delicacy and poise. It’s music of real depth, but with an easy, folk-like manner that speaks directly to the soul, and orchestra and soloist seem perfectly attuned to conveying this with playing of limpid loveliness. Even against some very strong competition in the catalogue, this new disc makes an immensely strong impression.
So, too, does another Dvořák disc, on the Pentatone label and with Czech forces. Rising star Jakub Hrůša (principal conductor designate of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra) conducts the PKF-Prague Philharmonia in the composer’s five self-standing overtures. Two of them, My Home and Hussite, were written for performance with plays, and have strongly patriotic subjects which the Prague musicians know how to tap into without overdoing things. These are robust but carefully-honed performances, which comfortably withstand repeated listening.
It’s the other three works, however, that provide the real meat here: the ‘Nature, Life and Love’ trilogy of the early 1890s. Bound together by a recurring theme said to represent the composer himself, In Nature’s Realm, Carnival and Othello represent a transitional phase between the non-programmatic world of the symphonies and the detailed narratives of the late symphonic poems. Where Hrůša’s performances really make their mark is in the loving care with which they’ve been prepared: there may have been more characterful performances, but few if any which so consistently bring out the sheer beauty of Dvořák’s writing. Even with the Prague Philharmonia’s smaller forces, there’s a radiant bloom to the sound which enhances both the high spirits of Carnival and the high drama of Othello. In a far from crowded market, this new release will be warmly received by Dvořák lovers.
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