The Collegium Vocale Gent, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Philippe Herreweghe join forces once again for a monument of the sacred choral repertoire: Antonín Dvorák’s Requiem, Op. 89. This work, dating from 1890, is one of those that marked a new phase
The later 19th century brought an increasing consciousness of national identity to various ethnic groups in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Antonín Dvořák, born in a Bohemian village where his father was an innkeeper and butcher, followed Smetana as the leading exponent of Czech musical nationalism, firmly within the Classical traditions of Central Europe. His early musical training was followed by employment for some years as a viola player, for a time under Smetana, and then, with the positive encouragement of Brahms, by a life primarily devoted to composition. Dvořák won recognition abroad and rather more grudging acceptance in Vienna. Between 1892 and 1895 he spent some time in the United States of America as director of the new National Conservatory, a period that brought compositions which combine American and Bohemian influence. At home again he was much honoured, resisting invitations from Brahms to move to Vienna in favour of a simple life in his own country. He died in 1904, shortly after the first performances of his last opera, Armida.
Arthur Brown was one of the prime movers behind the Progressive underground in late 1960s England, famous for his outlandish stage act which included psychedelic robes and a helmet of fire!
Digitally remastered two-fer containing a pair of albums from the British Rock icon. "Requiem" is an end-of-the-world concept album that comes on with a bang, not a whimper, and may well be the best thing that Arthur Brown has ever done! It's got all of the sonic excess you'd expect from the man who gave US 'Fire', but Brown's ornate Art-Rock tendencies are invariably backed up with enough visceral punch to make them marvelously affecting, not merely affected, while producer Earl Mankey handles the electronics well enough to maintain an unusually high level of interest and detail…
This second volume of miscellaneous chamber works contains all of the music that is not a formal quartet, quintet, or sextet. In includes the piano trios, the wonderful Terzetto for two violins and viola, works for solo instrument and piano, pieces for piano four-hands, and all of those little, undefinable works, some of which (such as the Bagatelles for two violins, cello, and harmonium) are magnificent.
Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, written in the aftermath of the deaths of three of his children, is a sober and powerful work, inexplicably neglected and unlike any other work of choral music from the 19th century. Perhaps most performances don't capture its full weight, but this live recording from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons, does so. There are many deep pleasures here. The orchestra's choir is extraordinary: rich yet without a hint of wobble and utterly clear in its sense of the text. Jansons keeps things at a deliberate pace that lets the music breathe and the currents of personal experience rise to the surface. The soloists, none terribly well known, are fine in their individual numbers, but absolutely transcendent in ensembles, nowhere more so that in the sublime "Quando corpus morietur" finale (track 10); there are a couple of other strong recordings of this work, but it seems likely that no one has ever matched this conclusion. The live recording from the Herkulessaal in Munich is impressively transparent and faithful to the spontaneity of the event. A superb Dvorák release.
Rafael Kubelik was one of our foremost interpreters of Dvorak and other great Czech composers such as Smetana and Janacek. His critically acclaimed 1960's Dvorak symphony Deutsche Grammophon cycle was reissued several years ago as a budget-priced collection.