TURNABOUT RECORDS TV-S 34539
SLEEVE IS IN GOOD CONDITION - LP IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION
RARE VINTAGE CLASSICAL WORK FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
FROM ANTONIN DVORAK
Widely regarded as the most distinguished of Czech composers, Antonin DvorÃ¡k (1841-1904) produced attractive and vigorous music possessed of clear formal outlines, melodies that are both memorable and spontaneous-sounding, and a colorful, effective instrumental sense. DvorÃ¡k is considered one of the major figures of nationalism, both proselytizing for and making actual use of folk influences, which he expertly combined with Classical forms in works of all genres. His symphonies are among his most widely appreciated works; the Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World," 1893) takes a place among the finest and most popular examples of the symphonic literature. Similarly, his Cello Concerto (1894-1895) is one of the cornerstones of the repertory, providing the soloist an opportunity for virtuosic flair and soaring expressivity. DvorÃ¡k displayed special skill in writing for chamber ensembles, producing dozens of such works; among these, his 14 string quartets (1862-1895), the "American" Quintet (1893) and the "Dumky" Trio (1890-1891) are outstanding examples of their respective genres, overflowing with attractive folklike melodies set like jewels into the solid fixtures of Brahmsian absolute forms.
DvorÃ¡k's "American" and "New World" works arose during the composer's sojourn in the United States in the early 1890s; he was uneasy with American high society and retreated to a small, predominantly Czech town in Iowa for summer vacations during his stay. However, he did make the acquaintance of the pioneering African-American baritone H.T. Burleigh, who may have influenced the seemingly spiritual-like melodies in the "New World" symphony and other works; some claim that the similarity resulted instead from a natural affinity between African-American and Eastern European melodic structures.
By that time, DvorÃ¡k was among the most celebrated of European composers, seen by many as the heir to Brahms, who had championed DvorÃ¡k during the younger composer's long climb to the top. The son of a butcher and occasional zither player, DvorÃ¡k studied the organ in Prague as a young man and worked variously as a cafÃ© violist and church organist during the 1860s and 1870s while creating a growing body of symphonies, chamber music, and Czech-language opera. For three years in the 1870s he won a government grant (the Viennese critic Hanslick was among the judges) designed to help the careers of struggling young creative artists. Brahms gained for DvorÃ¡k a contract with his own publisher, Simrock, in 1877; the association proved a profitable one despite an initial controversy that flared when DvorÃ¡k insisted on including Czech-language work titles on the printed covers, a novelty in those musically German-dominated times. In the 1880s and 1890s DvorÃ¡k's reputation became international in scope thanks to a series of major masterpieces that included the Seventh, Eighth, and "New World" symphonies. At the end of his life he turned to opera once again; Rusalka, from 1901, incorporates Wagnerian influences into the musical telling of its legend-based story, and remains the most frequently performed of the composer's vocal works. DvorÃ¡k, a professor at Prague University from 1891 on, exerted a deep influence on Czech music of the twentieth century; among his students was Josef Suk, who also became his son-in-law.
Featuring Piano Concerto in G Minor, B. 63, Op. 33
AntonÃn DvorÃ¡k composed his only virtuoso vehicle for pianoforte and orchestra during the late summer months of 1876, at the prompting of a notable Czech pianist. The Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33, is often described as DvorÃ¡k's first effort at concerto composition, but in fact this is not so: he had, a dozen or so years earlier, made what might be called a first draft of a concerto for cello and orchestra â€” an apprentice piece that quite naturally pales when placed next to his mature cello concerto of 1894-1895. It is usually, but certainly not always accurately, assumed that a pianoforte concerto is a vehicle for better and loftier musical thoughts than is a concerto for string instruments (the assumption goes back to Mozart and Beethoven, for whom it does indeed hold true), and DvorÃ¡k â€” himself far more a string player than a pianist â€” seems to have approached his Piano Concerto with that assumption in mind. The work is epic in style, grand in architecture, and sewn from an immediately and urgently dramatic fabric very different in kind from that used for the Violin Concerto, Op. 53, of just a few years later.
Even DvorÃ¡k devotees, however, are forced to admit that the Piano Concerto is not a completely successful piece of music. Some of the problems come from the piano writing, which is at times imbalanced and unwieldy. Many pianists have edited and rewritten the pianoforte part of the concerto over the years, but, in the end, something is lost in these rewrites. It takes a superb pianist to pull off DvorÃ¡k's original, but it can be done: Sviatoslav Richter is perhaps the finest exponent the work has yet known.
There is a full orchestral exposition at the start of the Allegro agitato first movement (again unlike the Violin Concerto, in which the soloist intrudes after just a few bars). The principal theme is symphonic in tone; the second theme veers towards something very chorale-like. A bombastic cadenza is the only sure sign that the work is not really a symphony accidentally scored for piano and orchestra.
The Andante sostenuto in D major is serene, and follows a harmonic path full of quiet surprises. The Allegro con brio finale is started by the soloist, a vintage Beethoven move, and proceeds to romp around in vintage DvorÃ¡k style; there is an undisguised Bohemianism to the energetic principal ideas of this rondo.
performed by Michael Ponti
Micheal Ponti is an all-around pianist who has recorded a wide variety of literature ranging from the early Romantics to that of Pierre Boulez. He began recording in the 1950s for Period and is best-known for his series of recordings The Romantic Piano Concerto issued by VoxBox. However, Ponti has always maintained a number of different label associations and is yet actively recording in the year 2001.
and the Prague Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jindrich Rohan