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One of the best recordings of the Dvorak Violin Concerto,
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This review is from: Dvorak Violin Concerto (Audio CD)
The concerto has seen a spate of recordings in recent years, but with vivid recording in the Rudolfinum in Prague, this intense version is one of the most distinctive.
---Classics Today, artistic quality: 9/10, sound quality: 9/10---
Isabelle Faust is an excellent artist, and she turns in a winning performance of Dvorák's sunny Violin Concerto, a work that has steadily returned to public favor (and rightly so) in the past couple of decades. My only criticism of this performance concerns a slight stiffness of rhythm at the opening of the finale that you will not find in such celebrated interpretations as Suk/Ancerl on Supraphon-however, Faust quickly gets into the swing of things as the movement proceeds, thanks in large part to Jiri Bélohlávek's totally idiomatic conducting and the sharply focused rhythmic response of his orchestra. In the first two movements, Faust offers as fine an interpretation as any, playing with purity of timbre and inflecting Dvorák's gorgeous tunes with sweetness and, where required, with passion (especially in the opening movement). She's also naturally balanced against the orchestra, allowing some very winning give and take between the soloist and the band in the central Adagio ma non troppo. Coupling the Violin Concerto with Dvorák's finest trio is an excellent idea. Once again, the performance does not quite rise to the level of, say, the Suk Trio, particularly in the first movement where Faust and company sacrifice a bit of the music's intensity for the sake of urgency; but if it's a fault, it's certainly one in the right direction. The two-against-three rhythms of the scherzo bounce along quite effectively, and the Poco adagio, the heart of the work, also is very beautifully played, with cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras offering generous tone but never sounding sappy. The finale also revels in high spirits, though like the first movement it just misses the depth of elegiac feeling that other players bring to the closing pages, just before the ebullient ending. Small quibbles aside, these performances are highly recommendable-and benefit from terrific sound. If this coupling appeals to you, don't hesitate for a moment.
---All Music, James Leonard, 3.5/5--- (a bit unfair in my opinion)
For some reason, Dvorák's warm, round, lovely, and lyrical Violin Concerto has never made it as one of the big-time nineteenth century violin concertos. Who can tell why? Perhaps because the big-time twentieth century violin virtuosos didn't take it up like they did the concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, and Bruch? Perhaps because the 1961 recording of the work by Czech violinist Josef Suk remains the definitive recording and none of the violinists who took it up could never quite compare with Suk's.
But, inevitably every decade or so, a young violin virtuoso will take up Dvorák's concerto and this decade's violinist is Isabelle Faust. A very talented player, Faust honorably acquits herself, but her performance cannot quite compare with Suk's. Her phrasing is warm, her tone is round, her lines are lovely, and her interpretation is lyrical. But for all that, Faust is still playing the work from the outside. Supported by the great Czech conductor Jirí Belohlávek leading the Prague Philharmonic, Faust's performance misses greatness by the small but insuperable distance between her to the music. Faust's performance of Dvorák's passionately melancholy Piano Trio in F minor with violinist Jean-Guihen Queyras and pianist Alexander Melnikov is superbly played and passionately interpreted, but unfortunately misses the work's melancholy heart. Harmonia Mundi's digital sound is warm and round, but a bit too close.