Classical CD Reviews

SMETANA: From My Homeland; DVORAK: Romance in F Minor; SUK: Four Pieces; JANACEK: Violin Sonata – Silvie Hessova, violin/ Daniel Wiesner, p. – Cube Bohemia

Two young Czech artists celebrate their national heritage in 2004 performances of lyrical beauty and strong conviction.

Published on April 15, 2013

SMETANA: From My Homeland; DVORAK: Romance in F Minor, Op. 11; SUK: Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 17; JANACEK: Violin Sonata – Silvie Hessova, violin/ Daniel Wiesner, p. – Cube Bohemia MJCD 2423, 58:23 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

The youthful violin virtuoso Silvie Hessova (b. 1969), after having studied with Professor Pribyl at the Prague Conservatory and with members of the Amadeus String Quartet, became the leader of the Eberle Quartet, noted for its interpretation of the first of the Janacek quartets. This recital of classical Czech works from 2004 features keyboard artist Daniel Wiesner (b. 1969), another graduate of the Prague Conservatory and studies with Valentina Kamenikova.

The Moderato (in the mode of a dumka) from Smetana’s two-movement suite From My Homeland, Op. 128 (1879) allows Hessova to show off her sumptuous tone in passionate and nostalgic figures. The Andantino in G Minor offers a more gypsified sentiment, its broad canvas assuming the quality of a ballad. Some pert playing from pianist Wiesner under and over the violin pizzicati as well as the more animated gypsy episodes, animato. That the composer suffered the onslaughts of deafness and personal despair at the time of the composition does not suffuse this spirited reading.

Dvorak’s lovely Romance in F Minor, Op. 11 works well in its version with piano accompaniment, the keyboard delicacy and color in suspended harmonies quite unique and apart from the orchestral setting. Originally part of the F Minor String Quartet, Op. 9 (1873), the sweet work gathers a potent affect in its middle section, backed up by some stunning block chords from pianist Wiesner, who then plays a ghostly series of staccati in the upper registers. Josef Suk’s Four Pieces (1900) were conceived as a vehicle for Karel Hoffmann of the Bohemian String Quartet. The group evinces a developing individuality of Suk’s style ,apart from the domination of father-in-law Dvorak. In the Quasi ballatta, Hessova indicates what she might accomplish in the modal and angular world of Impressionism, say in the G Minor Sonata of Debussy.  The more declamatory middle section rings with passionate ardor. Indeed, the second movement, Appassionato, proves most apt for these recitalists who relish the vivid cross-rhythms Suk imbibed from folk music. The middle section seems “borrowed” from the trio part of Dvorak’s Piano Quintet, third movement, Harmonically experimental, the Un poco triste movement follows Dvorak’s examples in the dumka tradition of shifting moods. Ginette Neveu provided the great model for interpreting this piece, and Hessova has her own, compelling virtues. The Burlesca runs a breathless course, moto perpetuo, peppered with moments of grand sentiments in tricky metrics.

The hothouse flavor of Leos Janacek’s 1914 Sonata for Violin and Piano makes a good finale for this colorful disc. Colors from a consciousness of WW I invade the special sound world of this piece in a steely confrontation of the two instruments. Wiesner’s piano imitates the gypsy cimbalom in the first movement. The famous Ballad from this sonata gathers in a rare poetry from this fine duo. Two intense movements follow, the Allegretto clamorously urgent and rife with bravura opportunities for the principals to sing and soar with equally fervent authority. The Adagio that concludes the piece carries a wistful affect, interrupted by those sudden and angular sforzati that invade the First Quartet.

—Gary Lemco




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