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Customer Review

on 26 November 2003
It is stunning to find that there are seemingly so many great works that are hardly ever performed today. Among them certainly this amazing masterpiece that has remained under thick layers of dust untill Harnoncourt and Aimard took the dustcloth to it.Recorded live at the concertgebouw, Amsterdam in october 2001 and remarkably well played by the concertgebouw-orchestra, who rank themselves among the graet orchestra`s but often stay many steps behind, particularly with regard to phrasing and accuracy. Here though, the orchestra plays with a righteous zeal that sizzles of the disc. The concerto is divided in 3 pieces, allegro agitato, andante sostenuto and finally allegro con fuoco. The most remarkable thing about the whole piece is that Dvorak puts the listener on the wrong foot, all the time. Even if u are familar with Dvorak`s work, the music here takes such unexpected turns that one is almost continuously unable to have any expectations at all. Effortlessly going from major to minor, climaxing where one does not expect it and failing to when one does. The piano has an almost chamber-music like role here and immediately remins one of the way that these two performers did Beethoven`s piano concerto`s recently.
I was fortunate to be present at the recording of this work two years ago. I have not heard it since, but in playing this disc everything caleidoscoped back while being completely new and fresh, again.
Among several new Harnoncourt recordings(thankfully, after a long time of NO recordings) this one really stands out for several reasons:
First, the amazing music. The fact that this grand piece is hardly ever performed today is inexcusable. It possesses the same quality that all of Dvorak`s works that I am familiar with do. In other words, ranks equally high as Brahms, Beethoven, etc. etc.
Second, the music making presented here is rarely found today. Obviously very well prepared before and executed with such fervour, such power and such love that one is left in tears at the end.
Thirdly, the recording is of an outstanding quality. Crystal clear, great stereo picture and warm.
Almost as an encore, since the recording came out several months ago as a compilation with all Dvorak`s symphonic poems, is his symphonic poem `the golden spinningwheel`which he wrote in 1895 after returning from America. Based on the extremely gruesome poems of the czech poet Karel Jaromir Erben, the listener is pulled into a horrid story about a jealous murder on a peasant girl that was to be married to the king. Images race by as in a silent film. In succession the ear`s eye sees a hunting party, a love story, a murder, disclosure and revenge. Played stunningly perfect (again) by the concertgebouw-orchestra.
Mr. Harnoncourt and Mr. aimard are strong advocates for this underestimated composer.
A small negative note on this disc is the utter lack of any information in the enclosed booklet. A great pity. I would have liked some comments by either of these grand performers that evidently have put their souls, minds and a great deal of time in these works.
Mr Harnoncourt, please: Cello concerto next?
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