Dvorák's popular Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 87, and Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81, have received numerous performances by Czech ensembles, as well as plenty of foreigners who have attained fluency in the received Czech style (or not). This fine release by Britain's Schubert Ensemble takes the step of defining a non-Czech way of playing Dvorák, with fresh and persuasive results. The players are circumspect and precise in the classic British style, but what they do is bold: they reduce the emphasis on the Czech rhythms in the music, turning them into accents rather than structural determinants.
The two large-scale works by Dvořák and Smetana are complemented here by the one- movement Elegy, by Josef Suk, Dvořák’s student and later son-in-law. Formed in 2007, the Sitkovetsky Trio performs worldwide and has received numerous awards and critical acclaim, but is here making its début on disc, in a programme perfectly suited to the ensemble’s virtuosic and impassioned music-making.
The search for "the" solo instrument of the 19th century leads inevitably to the piano. It has its place in the public concert hall as well as in the private salon, and not a few composers have emerged as successful pianists. Among the composers in this program, though, only Frédéric Chopin belongs to this group, but he soon changed his field of activity from the anonymous concert hall to the more intimate salon circle. Antonìn Dvorák, on the other hand, passed the organists' examination and was at first employed as violist in an orchestra, while Tchaikovsky was much too reclusive to interpret his own works in front of an audience. Among the selected works by Dvorák, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, only the Dvorák piano concerto requires a large concert hall, while the solo pieces by Chopin and Tchaikovsky were originally at home in the salon…
The late Mstislav Rostropovich and Seiji Ozawa deliver probably the greatest digital recording of the Dvorak concerto. For those familiar with the analog Karajan/Rostropovich recording, this digital recording finds the soloist creating a similar impression married with a more supportive Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. Karajan's creamy string sound and often overly-dramatic stylization is replaced here by Ozawa's stricter approach; his handling of the orchestra is masterful in this taught, precise reading. The legendary Boston Symphony responds resplendently and, although they may not highlight the rustic Czech idiom of this music, they certainly bring much charm, warmth, and expected musicality to the accompaniment. But enough about the orchestra - on to Rostropovich.
"…There are a lot of "New World" recordings but Jansons is surely competitive with the great ones with Fischer, Kondrasjin, Harnoncourt en Kubelik. This CD is a jewel both in the freshness of the playing and in the clearness of the recording. My favorite!" ~sa-cd.net