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Dvorák on the edge

His Stabat Mater reconsidered,

Naxos    8.555301-02

Dvorák: Stabat Mater (c) 2002 HNH International Ltd

During its early life, Dvorák's Stabat Mater [listen -- CD1 track 3, 0:00-1:10] had a connection with the UK -- in 1884 the composer visited England and conducted the work in London and Worcester, and then again in London the following year.

Dvorák provided this setting with the solemnity such a subject requires, yet it veers slightly towards respect rather than illumination. Vibrancy does not occur unless there is a strong bond between music and text. Dvorák was rarely amiss with basic requirements, so he usually partnered words and music imaginatively. This Stabat Mater therefore appears to me at a slight disadvantage. But my reservations are not widespread, for the score as a whole contains much expressive music. When we reach a verdict trembling between good and less good, only we can measure it for ourselves and decide if we keep hold or let go.

The American singers and players provide a reasonable performance.

Copyright © 28 September 2002 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK


Dvorák: Stabat Mater

8.555301-02 DDD NEW RELEASE (2 CDs) 63'12"/28'07" - TT 91'19" 2002 HNH International Ltd

Christine Brewer, soprano, Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano, John Aler, tenor, Ding Gao, baritone, The Washington Chorus and Orchestra, Robert Shafer, conductor

Dvorák: Stabat Mater Op 58 (1876-77); Dvorák: Psalm CXLIX (Bible of Kralice), Op 79 (1879)



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews