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Classical - Released June 27, 2008 | Naxos

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Coming as it does after disappointingly turgid readings of Brahms' four symphonies with the London Philharmonic, Marin Alsop's powerful recording of Dvorák's Ninth with the Baltimore Symphony is a surprise. Recorded live in Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, Alsop's Ninth is robust and energetic, with muscular rhythms and stalwart tempos. Her Molto vivace Scherzo has real heft and weight and her closing Allegro con fuoco has drive and strength. Better yet, Alsop coaxes warm, characterful playing from the Baltimore musicians. The ensemble is tight and direct in the fast movements, but the playing is colorful and soulful in the slow movements. The burnished lower strings in the opening Adagio and the solemn trombones at the start of the central Largo are deeply felt and quietly affecting. Preceded by a brilliant and bumptious account of the same composer's Symphonic Variations, this disc will add luster to both Alsop and the Baltimore's reputation. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 4, 2014 | Naxos

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Classical - Released March 24, 2014 | Warner Classics International

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Chamber Music - Released October 5, 2018 | Ondine

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Classical - Released August 7, 2020 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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To say that Kian Soltani's concerto debut for Deutsche Grammophon packs a punch is something of an understatement, and indeed long before Soltani even enters the fray, given that I'm not sure I've ever heard an orchestra sounding quite so dangerously, growlingly foreboding and theatrical at the opening of Dvořák's Cello Concerto as is heard here from Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin in what was a live performance at the Berlin Philharmonie: markedly slower than the score's metronome marking of 116 to a crotchet; little shivering swells added to the pianissimo crotchets concluding the first phrase; then not just a crescendo up to the first fortissimo statement of the main theme, but also a rushing accelerando; while this revving of the accelerator ultimately lands us smartly at Dvořák's actual tempo marking, the effect is one of being caught up in a lethally super-speed, supremely polished whirlwind. If you're a stickler for keeping to the score then you might balk, but there's no question that it's electrifying stuff. And on that note, remember Karajan's glorious bar 72 injection of an ardent and thoroughly unscripted portamento swoop for DG, back in 1968 with Rostropovich? Well Barenboim's repeated that trick here, and every bit as gloriously. Soltani himself is no less grabbing when he finally makes his entrance, displaying all the golden beauty of tone and poeticism we heard on Home, his recital debut for the label. Indeed the whole concerto represents a compelling combination of distinctive personalities, Soltani's romance coming elegant and precise, softly polished and lyrically singing, against Barenboim's coming ardently soaring one moment and craggily thunderous the next (and on that note, I've equally never heard the second movement's sudden minor-keyed outburst - just before Dvořák quotes his sister-in-law and first love Josefina's favourite song of his, referencing the fact that tragically she was dying as the concerto was being penned - explode in with such force as here). More Soltani-shaped pleasures come via the piercing urgency and biting rhythm he brings to the forceful, dance-like finale, a highlight of which is his lovingly exuberant and tightly together gypsy duet with the first violin; and back in the first movement, his sensitive duetting with the woodwind, who themselves are lovingly picked out by the engineering. In fact the overall engineering is another draw, the Philharmonie sounding wonderfully full and warm. Less enjoyable for some, meanwhile, will be the various rubatos and slackenings of the tempo applied to the softer passages, which can feel as though the breaks are being overly pulled. Soltani sticks with Dvořák for the remainder of the album, teaming up with the Staatskapelle cellists for various shorter pieces: his own transcriptions of the Op. 55 Gypsy Melodies from Songs My Mother Taught Me and the Allegro moderato from Four Romantic Pieces Op. 75, alongside transcriptions of Silent Woods plus the Largo from the ”New World Symphony”. These are all elegantly done, with superb blending and chamber awareness, and once again play to all Soltani's lyrical strengths. They're also all of a similar “smooth classics” mood, which ultimately makes for a less compelling listen than the album's first half, but which no doubt smartly ticks the playlist-friendly box. And while the manner in which the playlist box has been ticked has managed to sell no-one's soul along the way, after such a distinctive and persuasive Dvořák Cello Concerto, I'm hoping that Soltani's next concerto offering can be a meaty double bill. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released March 12, 2013 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Month - 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
Veteran historical-performance conductor Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent might seem a questionable choice for Antonín Dvorák's lushly Romantic Stabat Mater. And the booklet essay, which assigns the motivation for the work to Dvorák's 1870s employment at a church that favored pure Palestrina choral style, may further lead you to expect (or fear) a radically stripped-down reading of the work. But actually Herreweghe, like other performers who came of age in the historical-performance movement, has been moving into mainstream repertory, and his interpretation here, while not exactly possessing an intense subjectivity, is well within the mainstream. It's a bit deliberate in the tempos and tends to emphasize the work's roots in church music, but it is in no way chilly, and there's an X factor that comes from the performers' clear enthusiasm for the music. Herreweghe employs a choir of about 60 singers, a far cry from the 840 that performed the work in London, and more monumental performances exist. But it would no doubt have been very often performed by forces of this size, and everything is in balance and very smoothly done. Best of all are the quartet of Flemish and German soloists, whose ensemble work is both precise and relaxed, and who add a sort of lilt to many of their melodies. Listen to the work of mezzo soprano Michaela Selinger in the "Inflammatus et accensus movement" (track 9): she is highly expressive without letting the music expand to operatic dimensions. Herreweghe's characteristic orientation comes through in the final fugue, where the parts are all clearly sculpted and plenty of room is made for the brass underpinning. Add in clear, warm sound from Out Here's engineers, working in the Antwerp deSingel concert hall, and you have a worthy entry in the still not large catalog of recordings of the Stabat Mater. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2001 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Even though Antonín Dvorák remains among the most popular of Romantic composers, compilations of his complete symphonies are somewhat scarce, especially when compared to those of other great symphonists of the 19th century. That's one reason why Jirí Belohlávek's 2014 set with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra should get classical fans' attention, but a more valid reason to acquire this collection is the exceptionally high quality of the performances, which Decca recorded in a series of subscription concerts between 2010 and 2014. A deciding factor should be the strong feeling this conductor and orchestra have for Dvorák's music, not only because of a shared Bohemian tradition and the composer's legacy (Dvorák conducted the Czech Philharmonic's first concert in 1896), but also because few other orchestras communicate the rhythms and colors of the music as vibrantly and with as much excitement. As rare as sets of the complete symphonic cycle are, those that include Dvorák's concertos are rarer still. The recordings Belohlávek and the CPO made of the Cello Concerto in B minor with Alisa Weilerstein, the Violin Concerto in A minor with Frank Peter Zimmerman, and the Piano Concerto in G minor with Garrick Ohlsson are essential listening, and their inclusion with the symphonies gives the package much greater value. Decca's high-definition sound delivers clean details and close-up presence, so even though these recordings are live, they sound as fine as a studio recording. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Symphonies - Released November 1, 2016 | Decca

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or / Arte - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released October 16, 2020 | CAvi-music

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"This time, I am not only an absolute musician, but also a poet", wrote Dvorak regarding the Poetic Tone Pictures, Op. 85, his most extended cycle of lyric character pieces for piano. Concluded in April/May 1889 at his summer residence in Vysoka, the Poetic Tone Pictures introduced a new tendency in Dvorak's output: from then on, he started to "poeticize" his musical style. As he wrote to his publisher Fritz Simrock: "Each piece will have its own title and is meant to express something: thus, as it were, this is program music!" This new tendency culminated in 1896-1898 with the five symphonic poems The Water Goblin Op. 107, The Noon Witch Op. 108, The Golden Spinning Wheel Op. 109, The Wild Dove Op. 110, and A Hero's Song Op. 111. The great Czech composer is hardly known for his piano works, in which he invariably seems to stand somewhat in the shadow of great Romantic masters such as Schumann or Brahms. Nonetheless, the 13 character pieces that comprise the Poetic Tone Pictures reveal an incredibly rich, enchantingly diverse world of inner images. At the same time, they offer a multitude of stylistic and pianistic surprises by combining folklore elements with subtle timbre effects. It is therefore all the more astonishing that they have been seldom performed in concert. Elena Bashkirova was looking for a new work to play: she rediscovered the neglected cycle in her score cabinet, and was immediately thrilled with Dvorak's rich and diverse palette of timbres: "I flipped through the pages, played a couple of chords, and the music captured me right away. It's so poetic, so evocative. I immediately started to see stories and pictures in my mind's eye. As a pianist, you can narrate these stories very well. They open up our hearts". Elena Bashkirova finds that the Poetic Tone Pictures, although composed in the countryside, have everything to do in terms of mood with Prague Art Deco style. She is reminded "of those marvellous fin-de-siècle windows with their beautiful female figures". And she points out that Dvorak was thinking more of human situations than of landscapes when he wrote these pieces". This is the first solo album on CAvi-music by Elena Bashkirova: the daughter of the Russian Pianist Dmitri Bashkirov and spouse of Daniel Barenboim. © CAvi-Music
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Symphonic Music - Released January 1, 2000 | LSO Live

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Classical - Released May 25, 2010 | Naxos

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There were critics and listeners who enjoyed and admired the recording of Dvorák's Ninth Symphony with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, but this recording of the composer's Seventh and Eighth symphonies is hugely disappointing. The Seventh has no power and tragedy, with flaccid attacks, slack ensemble playing, lax phrasing, and smudged details. There is no joy or energy in the Eighth, but thick textures, heavy balance, dull colors, and lackadaisical rhythms. It's not that Alsop doesn't know how to get from one point to another, it's that she makes getting there seem so tedious. And it's not that the Baltimore Symphony doesn't know how to play these standard repertoire pieces, but that they seem to have little to no enthusiasm for doing them again. Captured in gray, two-dimensional digital sound, this disc reflects badly on everyone associated with it. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 20, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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After recording Antonín Dvořák's complete Symphonies with the Czech Philharmonic, of which he was the musical director from 2012 to 2017, the great conductor Jiří Bělohlávek set out to record the religious works of his compatriot, but death interrupted his attempt. Overcome by cancer in 2017 at the age of seventy-one, he had time to record the Stabat Mater just weeks before his death, as well as the ten Biblical songs, Op. 99 that feature on this new album. The project is taken up today by Jakub Hrůša who directed the Requiem and the Te Deum during the Prague Dvořák Festival in October 2017. Completed only a few weeks after the death of Jiří Bělohlávek, this recording takes the form of a posthumous tribute to the departed conductor. Composed in 1890, the Requiem premiered the following year in Birmingham under the direction of Dvořák. This splendid Requiem Mass, in its sobriety, evokes both the melancholy of departure and the hope of a future life free of all despair. Generally considered as the writer's most profound work, the Requiem speaks to Dvořák's existential soul-searching as he approached his fifties. The work is shot through with a deep and sincere faith without any folk references, and magnified by a choral writing which is full of grandeur and delicate instrumentation. Dvořák, though a simple man, left in these pages a true meditation on human destiny. ©️ François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released May 12, 2017 | New York Philharmonic

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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
Following her successful debut on Decca with the cello concertos of Edward Elgar and Elliott Carter, Alisa Weilerstein serves up another touchstone of her repertoire, Dvorák's Cello Concerto in B minor. Even though this album offers a handful of pieces for cello and piano, which Weilerstein and pianist Anna Polonsky play with charm and sentiment, listeners will pay the most attention to the concerto, which is the program's raison d'être. Weilerstein's highly personal and intensely Romantic style of playing is well-suited to this concerto, which is big on emotion and poignant lyricism, and her long lines and rapt expression effectively carry the piece. The accompaniment by Jirí Belohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra is vibrant and full of color and presence, though at no point is Weilerstein overwhelmed by the ensemble, thanks to the central microphone placement that is closely directed at the cello. Of course, such tight recording tends to expose the roughness of her multiple stops, and her entrance in the first movement is a bit startling. All the same, her rich timbres and passionate singing tone more than make up for any scratchiness one may encounter. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 17, 2016 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released May 12, 2017 | Naxos

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Chamber Music - Released October 20, 2017 | Supraphon a.s.

Distinctions Gramophone Award - Choc de Classica
As with Shostakovich and the Russians, there's debate over whether Czech performers bring a special quality to Dvorák's music. The Pavel Haas Quartet certainly makes Dvorák sound more Eastern than usual, bringing dramatic contrasts of light and shade in the Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81, in place of the usual orderly Brahmsian procession of themes. From the start, the playing of the group is both melodically evocative and intense, with tempos on the fast side. The contribution of hot Russian pianist Boris Giltburg here is substantial; in the slow movement of the Piano Quintet he establishes the little opening F sharp minor arpeggio as a kind of nervous memory rather than simply as an ornament. Sample the grand sweep of the finale for an idea of what you're getting here. The String Quintet in E flat major, Op. 97, is contrapuntally a more dense work than the Piano Quintet, and the Pavel Haas Quartet, joined by original violist Pavel Niki, differs less dramatically from other readings of the work. Yet this work also connects emotionally. Supraphon, not known for top-flight engineering, scores here with the sound environment of the Rudolfinium in Prague, giving space to the Haas Quartet's big interpretations. This recording offers a new standard for these much-played works. © TiVo
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Violin Concertos - Released January 1, 2009 | PentaTone

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Despite the relatively short time since the dawn of her international career, which began in 2004, violinist Arabella Steinbacher is already leaving a significant mark on the concert stages and recording studios of the world by this 2009 recording. She is rapidly proving herself to be an extremely mature, well-developed artist capable of handling the most musically sophisticated compositions in her repertoire. Such is certainly the case with the present performance of Karol Szymanowski's intense, gripping First Concerto. Few violinists tackle this marvelous concerto, but Steinbacher approaches it with every bit as much reverence as is typically given to concertos of Shostakovich or Bartók. What's more, her clear understanding of and unity with the score capture the attention of listeners from the first bar to the last. Her phenomenal technique allows her to focus on maintaining lines, coloring each note, and making sense of Szymanowski's melodic language. The PentaTone album continues with an equally engaging performance of the Dvorák Violin Concerto. Although this concerto is performed with great frequency, Steinbacher's interpretation is energetic and driven, robust without being overly sentimental, and powerful without being forced. Marek Janowski leads the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in masterful, restrained accompaniments and rich, enthusiastic tuttis. PentaTone's sound, particularly for those listening in 5.1-channel surround sound, is warm, present, and clear. © TiVo