Author Topic: Dvorak's Den  (Read 98246 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #600 on: May 11, 2020, 02:20:17 PM »
I must confess that I don't "get" Dvořák. He might be the only one of the major composers that just doesn't do much for me. I used to like his New World symphony, but I burned it out pretty quickly and in any case, I don't have it on CD at the moment. The only works of his that I actually do like somewhat are the B minor Cello Concerto & the E major string serenade, though I prefer his student Suk's work in that genre. I found myself especially unimpressed with the string quartets but I owe them a more serious listen; he left behind a formidable cycle.

I'm planning on checking out the piano & violin concertos and taking it from there. I do think he is a great composer and I hope his work clicks with me some day. Seeing this thread has made me want to revisit one of his works so I shall do that soon—I'm thinking maybe the 7th or 8th symphony, both of which I have on CD. I will probably get the Kertész cycle of the symphonies some day. I like the sound of it, what I've heard anyway.

The later SQs are where it’s at. The earlier SQs are much like Sibelius’ earlier ones in the that they don’t really reveal or give insights into the composer’s musical voice, but even then, there still can be some good music found in these works. A lot of times, also, it’s a matter of spending some time away from the composer, which can have a reverse effect, too, but I have found that if I don’t enjoy a composer’s music initially that if I leave that door open, then maybe someday I’ll get it. There has always been something special about Dvořák, especially whenever I heard the much too performed 9th symphony for the first-time. One of the things I did was avoid the classical ‘hits’ and stuck to my own musical journey. Quite frankly, I don’t care how popular a work is, if I enjoy it and get gratification from it, then nothing will get in the way of that. The Cello Concerto is another oft-mentioned and recorded work, but it's a stunning piece of music. I think sometimes the hype is real and is justified --- both of the afore mentioned works are a case in point. I’m not sure why you don’t enjoy Dvořák’s music that much. Several reasons why I enjoy it are for its earthiness, soulfulness, vitality and, most of all, beauty. Also, I just love these composers who were influenced by the folk music of their native countries and find ingenious ways of incorporating that world into their own music and make it their own. I say listen to more of his chamber music and if you haven’t heard any of his symphonic poems. then check those works out as well. There’s so much to explore within his oeuvre that sometimes I just feel like a kid in a candy store.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 02:33:52 PM by Mirror Image »
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Brewski

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #601 on: May 11, 2020, 02:24:38 PM »
My advice is don’t start at the start. For example some of the first half dozen string quartets are frankly pretty tiresome. It took Dvořák some years to click into his style.

You’d be on safe ground with the 7th/8th symphonies though (and ones earlier than that).

The later SQs are where it’s at.

Yes, to all of this. Do give the 7th and 8th symphonies a whirl (I also love the Sixth), as well as the later quartets. Those are so tuneful and catchy, it's easy to overlook how damn difficult they are to play.

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #602 on: May 11, 2020, 02:29:48 PM »
My advice is don’t start at the start. For example some of the first half dozen string quartets are frankly pretty tiresome. It took Dvořák some years to click into his style.

You’d be on safe ground with the 7th/8th symphonies though (and ones earlier than that).

Rather sound advice right there.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Madiel

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #603 on: May 12, 2020, 03:31:51 AM »
Here’s a question for my fellow Dvořákians: what recording(s) of the songs/lieder would you recommend?

I’ve been looking at the following:











Thanks in advance. It seems the songs and the solo piano music are the only things I’m missing from my Dvořák collection. I’m missing almost all of the operas except Rusalka, which I have conducted by Václav Neumann on Supraphon. It seems he composed many operas and many of them are difficult to obtain, so I won’t even try. ;)

You'll see my comments on the Fink 'songs' album elsewhere, though on a 2nd sampling I think I like her more than the first time. And I was reasonably happy the first time!

But I came back here to also say Peckova sounds, from the briefest sampling, to be a very nice singer.

However, the older 'Biblical Songs/Gypsy Songs' album, I'm not fond of when comparing it to newer recordings. I'm beginning to think that the reason I find the piano version of Biblical Songs to be slightly heavy going is that performance.

I've been sampling half a dozen other things too, and been pleasantly surprised at just how many singers sound quite good in this repertoire. I didn't really come across any duds.

Also, I've FINALLY been able to get the tiniest sample of this album:



Which is of interest to me because it mostly has rarer songs, some otherwise impossible to get. The one track I got to sample of one of the two main singers was very nice. So I might be hunting down a copy. (The album is on Spotify, but restricted to certain countries)
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #604 on: May 12, 2020, 04:57:44 AM »
I appreciate you doing some of the heavy-lifting, Madiel. 8) I liked what I hear from Pecková. She has a nice voice. She does a fine job on this Martinů recording:



But I’m glad I went with the Bernard Fink recordings of Dvořák lieder. 8)
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Madiel

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #605 on: May 13, 2020, 01:33:39 PM »
In my attempts to narrow down some song cycle choices, I listened to 5 women singing In Folk Tone, and then noticed all 5 also sang the Gypsy Songs.

All 5 of these are pretty good you understand. The bad-sounding ones didn't get as far as the comparison! Nevertheless I did develop a bit of a ranking. And really I think the top 2 are the ones I'm most seriously considering.

1. Marta Infante / Jorge Robaina

2. Bernarda Fink / Roger Vignoles

3. Barbara Ulricca Theler / Bruno Canino

4. Dagmar Peckova / Irwin Gage

5. Olga Stepanova / Frantisek Maly
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 01:45:06 PM by Madiel »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #606 on: May 13, 2020, 01:37:45 PM »
Excellent, Madiel. Appreciate you doing this survey. It appears that I made a good choice in the Fink/Vignoles. 8)
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Madiel

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #607 on: May 13, 2020, 01:44:26 PM »
Excellent, Madiel. Appreciate you doing this survey. It appears that I made a good choice in the Fink/Vignoles. 8)

Yes, I think you did. Though as you can see she's not currently my first choice. After this the programs of my top 2 diverge somewhat.

I haven't even brought the men in yet... some men do the Gypsy Songs (and indeed the very first performer appears to have been male) though none of them seem to do In Folk Tone.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #608 on: May 13, 2020, 03:30:17 PM »
Yes, I think you did. Though as you can see she's not currently my first choice. After this the programs of my top 2 diverge somewhat.

I haven't even brought the men in yet... some men do the Gypsy Songs (and indeed the very first performer appears to have been male) though none of them seem to do In Folk Tone.

Very nice, indeed. I can’t wait to get those Fink recordings.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline Madiel

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Re: Dvorak's Den
« Reply #609 on: May 14, 2020, 02:22:25 AM »
After more streaming (males singing the Gypsy Songs, both genders singing the Biblical Songs)... I think I've got the list of song recital albums I'm interested in down to six.

Which is still too many!

Though in some cases whether or not I can even get a hold of them might end up being a factor.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 02:25:24 AM by Madiel »
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!