Dvorak album 19658710672

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
The Dvořák Album
Piano Quartet No 2 in E-flat, Op 87
Piano Trio No 4 in E minor, Op 90 ‘Dumky’
Terzetto in C major for two violins & viola, Op 74
Humoresque in G-flat major for solo piano, Op 101, No 7
Songs my mother taught me, Op 55, No 4 for cello & piano
Jan Vogler (cello), Juho Pohjonen (piano), Kevin Zhu (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola),
Chad Hoopes (violin), Tiffany Poon (piano)
rec. 2022, Concert Hall, Drew University, New Jersey, USA
SONY CLASSICAL 19658710672 [71]

Renowned cellist Jan Vogler, the director of the Dresden Music Festival since 2001, is also artistic director of the annual Moritzburg Festival near Dresden. For Vogler to choose an all-Dvořák programme is especially apt, as works by the composer have appeared continuously on Moritzburg festival programmes for thirty years. All the young musicians on this album have played with Vogler at this festival, where talented young artists gather to make music with celebrated soloists. With this Dvořák album recorded at Drew University, New Jersey state, I assume Vogler is wanting to convey the flavour of the chamber music played at Moritzburg.

The opening work on the album is Vogler’s adaptation for cello and piano of ‘Songs my mother taught me’, by far the best known of his set of seven ‘Gypsy Songs’, Op. 55 from 1880. Taking two and quarter minutes to play it here, Vogler and pianist Juho Pohjonen clearly relish the melodic and heart-warming quality of the score.

The four-movement Piano Quartet No 2, Op 87, one of Dvořák’s most mature works, isn’t played as often as its quality deserves. In this performance led by Kevin Zhu, the second movement Lento is a highlight for its heartfelt lyricism and series of contrasting themes, and the first section of the Scherzo with its Ländler-like rhythms sounds especially splendid.

Vogler has chosen the third movement ScherzoVivace – a furiant or Bohemian dance – from the four movement Terzetto for two violins and viola, Op 74 from 1887. I don’t think I have heard it played as a standalone piece before, but this performance led by Chad Hoopes works well.

One of Dvořák’ most famous and enjoyable works is the Piano Trio No 4, widely known as the ‘Dumky’ trio. Completed in 1894, it has six sections, all in different keys. Each if the six sections is based around the dumka from Slavic folk music that alternates fast and slow sections. Engagingly led by Chad Hoopes, the playing of the intense contrasts of mood is first rate. Especially pleasing is the bucolic, outdoor feeling given to the Poco Adagio which leads into a boisterous dance. The players don’t hold back in either the assertive Allegro, with its vivacious rhythms and rustic character, or the satisfying Finale, a vigorously energetic romp.

During Dvořák’s stay in America from 1892-95, he collected numerous traditional American folk melodies and worked a number of the traditional themes into several of his compositions, notably Symphony No 9 ‘New World’, and used others in his cycle of short piano pieces the Eight Humoresques from 1894. Marked Poco lento e grazioso, the Humoresque No 7 is unique and the most memorable piece of the set; it has been described as imitating the sound of a train. Taking three and quarter minutes here, it is gloriously played by piano soloist Tiffany Poon who accentuates the warm and attractive character of the piece.

Jan Vogler’s contribution throughout is first rate and one senses that his group of younger friends are thoroughly enjoying the opportunity of making music together. Their overenthusiasm probably explains some very slight issues with unity and intonation; nevertheless, for me, this is negated by the freshness and expressive character of the playing. Vogler rightly mentions his satisfaction with the work of the four-time Grammy award winning sound engineer Jesse Lewis. The accompanying booklet provides information on both the works and performers.

So, does this album successfully convey the impression of the Moritzburg Festival? My answer is a resounding yes!

Michael Cookson

1. ‘Songs my mother taught me’ from ‘Gypsy Songs’, Op 55, No 4 (B.104)
(adapted for cello and piano by Jan Vogler)
Jan Vogler (cello), Juho Pohjonen (piano)
Musical Salon
2-5. Piano Quartet No 2 in E-flat major, Op 87 (B.162)
Kevin Zhu (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola), Jan Vogler (cello), Juho Pohjonen (piano)
6. Scherzo: Vivace from Terzetto in C major for two violins and viola, Op 74 (B.148)
Chad Hoopes (violin), Kevin Zhu (violin), Matthew Lipman (viola)
Bohemian Countryside
7-12. Piano Trio No 4 in E minor, Op 90 (B.166) ‘Dumky’
Chad Hoopes (violin), Jan Vogler (violoncello), Tiffany Poon (piano)
13. Humoresque No 7 in G-flat major, from 8 Humoresques piano cycle, Op 101 (B.187)
Tiffany Poon (piano)

Help us financially by purchasing through