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Dvorák: Tone Poems
     

Dvorák: Tone Poems

by Simon Rattle
 
Antonín Dvorák's four tone poems, composed in quick succession in 1896, certainly look gruesome on paper: In the ballads by Czech poet Karel Jaromír Erben that inspired them, innocent children die at the hands of jealous goblins and malevolent witches; a dove's obsessive chirping drives a murderess to madness and suicide; and a supernatural

Overview

Antonín Dvorák's four tone poems, composed in quick succession in 1896, certainly look gruesome on paper: In the ballads by Czech poet Karel Jaromír Erben that inspired them, innocent children die at the hands of jealous goblins and malevolent witches; a dove's obsessive chirping drives a murderess to madness and suicide; and a supernatural spinning wheel reanimates a dead girl who then takes brutal vengeance against her stepmother. But Dvorák's music is no horror-movie soundtrack. The composer was less interested in finding musical translations of all the gory details than in the act of storytelling itself and the Czech folk tradition that produced these tales. In each of the four "orchestral ballads" (as Dvorák called them), the music is a spellbinding narrator, using all the resources of melody, orchestral color, and dramatic pacing to draw the listener into enchanted worlds. You don't need to know the stories to appreciate Dvorák's explorations of the possibilities of program music, from the concise forward drive of The Noonday Witch to the more impressionistic scene-setting of The Water Goblin. Sometimes included as "fillers" on discs of Dvorák's larger works, they are perhaps more effective when heard on their own as a cycle, as Simon Rattle allows us to do in these live recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic. Since becoming music director in Berlin in 2002, Rattle's recordings with the orchestra have been uniformly splendid, and this is no exception, as the lustrous sound of the full ensemble and the strong character of individual soloists combine to bring Dvorák's scores to life in all their vivid and magical charm.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Bernard Holland
Sir Simon's high-energy, high-drama style is appropriate, and the Berlin Philharmonic is a perfect instrument for the music.
Gramophone - Andrew Achenbach
Much to admire, as one would expect from such highly accomplished protagonists. The Berliners play with exquisite poise and sensitivity, and Rattle's eagle-eyed, superbly coordinated interpretations are clearly the product of deep thought and meticulous preparation.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Rattle seems to have the scores in his blood. These live performances are flexible, radiant and potent, and the Berlin Philharmonic is present in all its golden glory. [Grade: A]

Product Details

Release Date:
08/02/2005
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
0724355801920
catalogNumber:
58019

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. The Golden Spinning Wheel (Zlatý kolovrat), symphonic poem, B. 197 (Op. 109)  - Antonin Dvorák  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Simon Rattle
  2. The Wild Dove (Holoubek), symphonic poem for orchestra, B. 198 (Op. 110)  - Antonin Dvorák  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Simon Rattle
  3. The Noon Witch (Polednice), symphonic poem, B. 196 (Op. 108)  - Antonin Dvorák  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Simon Rattle
  4. The Water Goblin (Vodník), symphonic poem, B. 195 (Op. 107)  - Antonin Dvorák  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Simon Rattle

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