– Harmonia mundi HMC 901867 69:41 *****:
Now that we all know “the secrets of the Dvorak Cello Concerto,” that its heart belongs to Dvorak’s one-time love and sister-in-law Josefina Kournicova (d. 27 May 1895), every cellist can wear that heart on his sleeve. While I know little of cello virtuoso Jean-Guihen Queyras’ pedagogy, he plays very smoothly and sweetly, reminding me much of the late Paul Tortelier. Belohlavek opts for rather gentle tempos, energetic certainly, but prone to allow the flute, oboe, bassoons, pizzicato strings, and horns do all the inner-voice work which makes any Dvorak orchestral score delicious. The performance of the Concerto, April 2004 in the Rudolfinum Prague, is lovingly miked, and the ambiance both spacious and warm. The second movement Adagio ma non troppo manages to gain sentimental force beyond mere nostalgia with the arrival of the horn fanfare just prior to the brief cadenza. The quotations from Dvorak’s sad song “Leave Me Alone,” Op. 82, No. 1 add particular poignancy to the interplay of cello, flute and orchestra. The Allegro moderato finale marches forth with predictably frothy colors, the Prague Philharmonia strings and our youthful soloist ablaze. Belohlavek created this orchestra, and he gets what he wants, a deeply rich and sensitive, liquid palette. When this ensemble and conductor expand their repertory into less frequented areas, I want to be there.
The Dumky Trio inscription comes from a session in December 2004 at the Teldex Studio Berlin. The acoustic richness of the recording reaches into you from the very first thrust of the opening dumka, Lento maestoso. The Ukranian melancholy dance form, in all its protean vitality, finds sympathetic realization in this fine reading by these three young musicians, each of whom is a kind of Hollywood pinup. Even while the cello dominates most of the entries, Dumka II permits pianist Melnikov and violinist Faust their day in musical court. The pearly interplay, luminescent and brilliant, rivals the magic we have had from Trio Fontenay and the Beaux Arts Trio. Cello grumbles and pianistic ripples accompany Faust’s fervent playing for Dumka III, which soon becomes an Indian legend. Slovakia rules in the shimmering Dumka IV, in which Mlle. Faust makes feisty points. The last two sections confirm that happy synchronicity of effects between composer and performers, making this one of the really visceral readings of this piano trio in my experience. The entire last section of the Dumky Trio ought to be shipped out on the Hubble Telescope for cosmic broadcast.