Dvořák: Silent Woods - Poltera, Stott

Dvořák: Silent Woods - Poltera, Stott


Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber

Dvořák, Antonín:
Sonatina in G major, Op.100/B. 183, Rondo in G minor, Op. 94/B. 171; Silent Woods (Klid), Op. 68 No.5/B. 173; Songs My Mother Taught Me (Kdyz mne stará matka) No. 4 of Gypsy Songs, Op. 55/B. 104; Good Night (Dobrú noc) No. 1 of In Folk Tone (V národním tónu), Op. 73/B. 146; Polonaise in A major, Op. posth./B. 94; Larghetto in G minor No. 4 of Romantic Pieces (Romantické kusy), Op. 75a/B. 150; Song to the Moon (Mesícku na nebi hlubokém) from Rusalka, Op. 114/B. 203; Lasst mich allein (Leave Me Alone) No. 1 of Four Songs (Ctyri písne), Op. 82/B. 157

Christian Poltéra (cello)
Kathryn Stott (piano)

Antonín Dvořák’s path to his famous cello concerto was long and far from direct. Certainly he had used the instrument to great effect in his orchestral music, but for a long time he doubted its suitability as a solo instrument. To some extent, this disc charts the process of the composer towards the recognition of the full capabilities of the cello, as it includes chamber works that Dvořák composed directly for cello and piano, or arranged for the combination.

The earliest of these, although not published until long after the composer’s death, was the Polonaise in A major, a piece lyrical and virtuosic in turns. Some thirteen years later, in 1892, Dvořák composed the Rondo in G minor and arranged Silent Woods, originally a piano duet. Shortly after he also made versions for cello and orchestra of both pieces, almost as if preparing himself for the concerto, which he began writing in 1894.

Dvořák’s own practice of arranging existing works has encouraged Christian Poltéra to select a number of the composer’s violin pieces and songs, performing them here in his own transcriptions. These include the Violin Sonatina, from the same time as the Rondo and Silent Woods and originally intended for Dvořák’s own children. Among the songs are Lasst mich allein, which Dvořák quotes it in the slow movement of the cello concerto, and the ever-popular Songs My Mother Taught Me, as well as Rusalka’s Song to the Moon, as eloquent a declaration of love as can be, even when performed without words.

Christian Poltéra and Kathryn Stott are regular partners in chamber music, and have previously recorded music by Honegger and Frank Martin together, on discs that have received distinctions such as Diapason d'or, Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and ‘10/10’ on web site

Support this site by purchasing from these vendors using the links provided below.
As an Amazon Associate earns from qualifying purchases.


Add to your wish list | library


9 of 9 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

PCM recording

24/96 recording
Reviews (1)

Review by John Miller - November 12, 2012

The enticingly beautiful front cover of this disc beckons us into the feast of high Romantic music within. Cellist Christian Poltéra teams with pianist Kathryn Stott, a frequent chamber music partner, to explore and illustrate Dvorák's developing affair with the cello. Poltéra has imposing lists of important orchestras that he has played with as a soloist, and a similarly impressive list of well-known maestros who have conducted for him. Chamber music is another major string in his bow. Not only does he play with many well-known ensembles, he founded the Trio Zimmerman, whose SA-CD discs for BIS (Mozart: Divertimento - Trio Zimmermann, Beethoven: String Trios 3-5 - Trio Zimmermann) have received wide approbation. Kathryn Stott is also very well-known, particularly for her peerless discs of Fauré's piano music, and she too has a rich association with chamber music as well as her stellar solo career.

Horst Scholz, one of BIS' most prolific liner notes authors, offers a very detailed and helpful account of how Dvorák was at first quite critical of the cello ("Nasal in the upper register, grumbling in the lower"), and thought it had to prove itself. He tried to help it along, having obtained a commission in 1865 for a cello concerto from Ludevit Peer, a friend and fellow player in the orchestra of the Prague Interim Theatre. He struggled but failed with this project, and the sketches for a Cello Concerto in A minor were lost until 1925. Eventually, while in his American sojourn, he finally mastered the recalcitrant instrument, producing in 1895 his great B minor Cello Concerto, which even Dvorák felt was the best of his concertos.

In times between, he produced several short pieces for cello and piano; a Polonaise in A major, op. post. (1879), and arrangements from piano duets, Silent Woods Op. 68 no.5 (1883, arr. 1891) and Larghetto in G minor, for violin and piano Op. 75a (1887). There is also a Rondo in G minor Op. 94 (1891), originally for cello and piano, which was later orchestrated by Dvorák, and this is the version which solo cellists are wont to use in encores. A Sonatina in G minor for violin and piano, Op. 100 was written in America, as a promise to the family that for his 100th work, he would do something special. Its four movements are embroidered with pentatonic melodies and allusions to spirituals, so it sometimes sounds like a very small brother to the New World Symphony. Written in a faily simple and straight forward way, he had his two children in mind. As it suited my technical level, I played this myself a number of times with a violinist friend. I can thus confirm its ingenious and affecting spirit, and the joy obtained in playing it. The other four tracks on this disc were marvellously transcribed from Dvorák's songs by Christian Poltéra, paying as much to the composer's intentions as possible.

Poltéra and Stott are ideal players for this repertoire. Poltéra's very characteristic sound is silky-smooth, always in tune, with a fine control and easy virtuosity. Stott doesn't just accompany but communes expressively with her partner, producing a musical liaison which is deeply expressive and often profound. Their dedicated advocacy of these pieces envelops the listener in warm and expansive Romanticism, sometimes reaching searing intensity, as in the tear-stained Larghetto in G minor. The only piece with brilliant bravura and nationalistic swagger is the Polonaise in A minor, which resonates proudly in the venue's acoustic space. Poltéra's new song transcriptions, however, are gorgeous, be they softly restrained or opening up to soar; a box of paper tissues might be handy to have close by, as I found myself near to tears most of the time. Poltéra's transcription of "O Silver Moon" from Rusalka is a tour-de-force, with sensitive and attentive support from Stott. Her imitations of moonlight shimmering in the river water are breathtaking. I never for a moment regretted the absence of a full operatic orchestra.

This seems to be the first SA-CD which this duo have made, and hopefully there will be more. BIS engineers make them sound as if they are visiting your listening room, and if you have multichannel, it will seem that you have also invited a bloom-giving but discreet ambience from a Berlin studio. For the number-spotters, this was a 96kHz/24-bit PCM capture.

A recital of remarkable artistry, demanding an immediate repeat. Probably the best cello and piano disc I have ever heard, deserving of great success. Bravo!

Copyright © 2012 John Miller and


Sonics (Stereo):

Sonics (Multichannel):

stars stars stars