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Dvorák and Pappano

Two of Antonin Dvorák's most loved works, the Symphony No 9 'From the New World' and the Cello Concerto in B minor, are brought together in a rare coupling, performed by the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under its Music Director Antonio Pappano. Cellist Mario Brunello, winner of the VIII International Tchaikovsky Competition, plays the concerto in its less familiar original version. Both works were recorded in concert during the Orchestra's 2011/2012 season.

Dvorák spent the years 1892-1895 in New York as Director of the National Conservatory of Music, teaching and conducting performances of his own works. He believed great art music should come from native folk music and he identified Negro spirituals and the songs of American Indians as the native folk music of the United States. Interviewed days before the premiere of his symphony 'From the New World', he said, 'It is this spirit which I have tried to reproduce in my new symphony. I have not actually used any of the melodies. I have simply written original themes embodying the peculiarities of the Indian music ... I developed them with all the resources of modern rhythm, harmony, counterpoint and orchestral color.' Some examples in the Ninth Symphony are the first movement theme, reminiscent of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot', the spiritual-like theme in the Largo and the woodwind motifs and pounding repeated note accompaniment in the Scherzo, inspired by Native American Indian dance.

When Dvorák began work on his cello concerto in 1894, cello concertos were rare. Among his inspirations were a performance of the second cello concerto by Victor Herbert (who also taught at the National Conservatory of Music in New York) and friendship with the cellist Hanus Wihan, to whom Dvorák dedicated his concerto. The cello concerto was the last work Dvorák completed in the United States. By 1896, he had become increasingly homesick, and Central European folk themes are evident in the work. Distressed to learn that his sister-in-law, with whom he had previously been in love, was dying back home, Dvorák introduced the theme of a song he had written of which she had been particularly fond. On hearing the news of her death, he revised the coda of the concerto, reiterating the theme with quiet drum beats in the background.

Wihan made a number of suggestions for improvements to Dvorák's score, including two cadenzas, but the composer eventually accepted only a few of them. In this recording, the leading contemporary Italian cellist Mario Brunello plays Dvorák's original score, prior to Wihan's suggestions.

The combination of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano would seem to be a marriage made in heaven. The Orchestra's Artistic Administrator said that, when Pappano arrived six years ago, 'It was a shock. The Orchestra fell in love with him immediately.' James Inverne, former Editor of Gramophone, wrote in November 2011: 'To say that this orchestra is resurgent is to understate things. With fine reviews and prizes falling into their laps at almost every turn, Italy's premiere orchestra is more highly regarded than at any time in its history.'

Antonio Pappano is Music Director of both the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He was given a knighthood in the UK in the 2012 New Year's Honours List, and has since been awarded the Knighthood of the Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana by the President of the Italian Republic. In 2011, Pappano won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Creative Communication for his groundbreaking series Opera Italia for BBC Four.

Antonio Pappano has recorded exclusively for EMI Classics since 1995 and renewed his contract with the label in October 2010. Recent recordings with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia include Mahler's Symphony No 6, Rachmaninov's Symphony No 2 / Liadov's The Enchanted Lake and Rossini's William Tell. Earlier releases included Rossini's Stabat Mater, Verdi's Requiem and Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann in the leading roles.

The Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia has been invigorated in recent years under the music directorship of Antonio Pappano. Named one of the leading orchestras in the world by Classic FM Magazine in 2010, the Orchestra and Pappano have performed at the Salzburg Festival and at the BBC Proms, among others. Their 2012/2013 season begins in Rome with a performance of Bruckner's Symphony No 9 and Verdi's Quattro Pezzi Sacri. In November 2012, the Orchestra and Pappano tour Germany and Belgium with Martha Argerich as soloist. They will tour Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland in February 2013 and Switzerland and Germany in April 2013.


Posted: 25 August 2012 by EMI Classics

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