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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904)
Music for violin and piano, Vol. 1
Romance in F minor, Op.11; Violin Sonata in F major, Op.57; Four Romantic Pieces, Op.75; Violin Sonatina in G major, Op.100.
Qian Zhou (violin), Edmund Battersby (piano)
Recorded September 2-3 1998 in Potton Hall. Suffolk, England
NAXOS 8.554413 [65.20]


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The first volume of a project by Naxos to record all the music Dvorák wrote for violin and piano between 1873 and 1893 provides a welcome opportunity to hear the composer in a more intimate mood than in the orchestral works, for which he is better known. These are mature compositions, full of lyrical beauty and ingenuity, and though Brahmsís influence is easily detectable, especially in the Op.57 Sonata, there is an authentic Slavonic lilt about all the music on this disc.

Dvorák himself appears to have been particularly fond of the Romance Op.11, a graceful, flowing tune taken from the slow movement of his F minor Quartet of 1873 and later arranged it for violin and orchestra, the version which is now usually heard. The Sonata is in a more heroic mould, and displays the rhythmic vitality found in the faster passages of his symphonies. The Four Romantic Pieces are again arrangements by the composer of a similar work written only a week earlier in 1887, the Miniatures for two violins and viola. The Sonatina. was composed in America, and completed in 1893, a fortnight before The New World Symphony was first performed in New York. Like the Symphony it is full of the nostalgia Dvorák felt for his native country. As in much of Dvorákís other chamber music, the innocent freshness of these works is untainted by schmaltz.

The performances are technically secure, and take good care of the essentially romantic nature of this attractive music, though neither player is prepared to take risks and I, for one, would have preferred a rather more uninhibited approach.

A disc that has more than passing interest to recommend it, and promises similar pleasures from its successors in this series.

Roy Brewer

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