SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

DVORAK: Violin Concerto in A minor; Czech Suite Op. 39; Nocturne for Strings in B major; Waltz No. 1 from Two Waltzes Op. 54 (arr. for strings) – Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Joseph Swensen, violinist & conductor – Linn

As richly lyrical as the composer's famed cello concerto

Published on November 25, 2006

DVORAK: Violin Concerto in A minor; Czech Suite Op. 39; Nocturne for Strings in B major; Waltz No. 1 from Two Waltzes Op. 54 (arr. for strings) – Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Joseph Swensen, violinist & conductor – Linn
DVORAK: Violin Concerto in A minor; Czech Suite Op. 39; Nocturne for Strings in B major; Waltz No. 1 from Two Waltzes Op. 54 (arr. for strings) – Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Joseph Swensen, violinist & conductor – Linn Multichannel SACD CKD 241, 63:46 ****:

Sparkling performance and surround recording of the beloved (but not as much the cello concerto) Dvorak work. There are some great historical versions, including Johanna Martzy and David Oistrakh, as well as competition from Stern, Perlman, Midori and others if you desire more up to date sound. However, I don’t know of another hi-res surround version, and Swensen’s rich violin tone is naturally conveyed and not inflated as on Stern’s and some other recordings. There is superb agreement in interpretation of this work between soloist and conductor – since they are one and the same. Swensen was a successful professional violinist before he devoted himself to his conducting career, making occasional stints as a violin soloist a natural extension of his conducting work.  He is of Norwegian and Japanese descent and is based in Copenhagen.

The concerto of 1879 is just as richly lyrical as the composer’s cello concerto.  Its last movement makes use of a number of Czech folk elements- making it a good transition to the other larger work here, the Czech Suite. the five movements of this work emphasize national rhythms and accents. There’s a polka and the suite ends with an exciting rapid dance, the Furiant. The two shorter filler works are enjoyable Dvorak, the Nocturne having been arranged by the composer in as many as five different versions. All three works paired up with the Violin Concerto offer an alternative choice to the pairing with another violin concerto found on most of the competing versions.

 - John Sunier




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