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Penguin Guide, January 2009

This is a tidying-up compilation, offering just short of 80 minutes of lesser-known Dvořák, although Silent Woods and the Nocturne are not entirely unfamiliar. The highlights is the American Suite. It is delectably scored and, although lightweight, has great charm. The Seven Interludes were written much earlier, in 1867: they are agreeable enough, but very slight. The Mazurka (1879) for violin and orchestra has something of the flavour of the Slavonic Dances. The dance movements are jolly and infectious, the Polonaise suitably boisterous. The performances here are all of good quality, as is the recording, and with good documentation the disc earns its three stars for enterprise as well as enjoyment.





Fanfare, May 2005

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Victor Carr Jr
ClassicsToday.com, April 2005

"This generously-filled disc presents more than 78 minutes of Dvorák orchestral miniatures, of which only Silent Woods is likely to be immediately recognized by most listeners (it, as well as the Rondo for cello and orchestra, usually winds up coupled on disc with Dvorák's Cello Concerto). Coming up second is the American Suite, which features psuedo-ethnic stylings similar to those found in the composer's New World Symphony and "American" String Quartet.

The "old world" is stylishly evoked in Dvorák's clever and engaging Five Prague Waltzes, as well as in the E-flat Polonaise, B-flat Polka, and the Mazurka for Violin and Orchestra. The earliest work in this collection, Seven Interludes for small orchestra, also is the rarest. While the thematic material doesn't achieve the ingenuity and individuality of his later work, Dvorák makes it interesting by varying the mood, atmosphere, and dramatic content of the movements, which range in style from terse conflict to lyrical meditation to joyous celebration.

Finally, the most arresting work on the program is the beautiful Nocturne in B. Dmitry Yablonsky slightly misses the mark here--his too-swift tempos diminish the enchantment usually created by this music. Everywhere else however, the conductor's instincts are dead-on as he leads idiomatic, vibrant, and colorful performances with the Russian Philharmonic. The recording is a little lacking in warmth and presence, but otherwise it sounds fine. This release is self-recommending for Dvorák specialists, but others who enjoy gorgeous, finely crafted, and stimulating orchestral music should hear it as well."



Colin Clarke
MusicWeb International, December 2004

"A lovely disc of Dvorákiana, well chosen as a programme and generally well performed and recorded. The recording is perhaps a little harsh, as this source tends to be although apparently SACD incarnations have fared better in this respect. Dvorák requires a certain warmth and affection both in execution and in sound space, a requirement only partially met here.

The most famous works are ‘Silent Woods’, the Nocturne and the American Suite, although I suspect it is in the lesser-known items that this disc’s value lies.

The Mazurka (Mazurek) for violin and orchestra also exists in a violin and piano version; it is dedicated to Sarasate. A somewhat resonant acoustic unfortunately leads to some muddying of textures, yet there is much swagger to this account, plus the nostalgic parts are given due weight.

Interesting that Yablonsky directs the works for cello and orchestra. He has a light touch that is most appealing in the Rondo - some passages are gossamer-light. The perhaps more famous Silent Woods is similarly impressive, with real lyric breadth and restful aura. The recording is not 100% convincing however, putting Yablonsky a little bit too much in one’s face. A shame, as his tone is pleasing and the expression well judged.

Separating the two cello items in the disc running order is the Seven Interludes, a set that was new to me. Written in 1867, they exude the confidence and freshness of youth. The ‘risoluto’ indicator of the first seems to have been taken with a pinch of salt by Yablonsky, and indeed it becomes clear he finds it easier to bask in the Dvorákian sunshine of, say the third (‘Con molta espressione’, but note the wiry high violins) than in the more exciting movements. The finale should surely have more vim. Most interesting musically is the ‘Serenata’ with even the Andantino con moto tempo similarly implying calm. Here there is a slight feeling of disquiet that actually adds a layer of fascination to the experience.

The Polonaise is an eminently approachable work that would make a superb encore; the Nocturne in B is possibly the most famous composition on the disc. Alas here it sounds just like a studio run-through, with upper strings especially uncomfortable. The American Suite is given a polished performance though. The second movement proves the highpoint, with strings coping with the tricky lines well, and rustic clarinets providing adorable contrast. The fourth movement Andante contains moments of great delicacy.

The Five Prague Waltzes are an interesting diversion, given here in a suave and even sometimes glittery performance. The penultimate one in particular is simply great fun! The concluding Polka is funny, a sort of Dvorák/Brahms Hungarian/Czech Dance, gently appealing and surely tongue-in-cheek until its intentionally sudden and blatant ending.

Recommended, despite some shortcomings. A great way to explore some of the lesser-known byways of this great composer’s output."





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