WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Dvorák: Stabat Mater / Equilbey, Coku, Pokupic, Breslik

Release Date: 04/29/2008 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 5091   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Pavol BrslikAlexandra CokuBrigitte EngererRenata Pokupic,   ... 
Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

DVO?ÁK Stabat mater Laurence Equilbey, cond; Alexandra Coku (sop); Renata Pokupic (alt); Pavol Bršlik (ten); Markus Butter (bs); Brigitte Engerer (pn); Accentus NAÏVE 5091 (59:47 Text and Translation)

The notes tell us that this is a great musicological discovery, that Dvo?ák wrote a piano-accompanied version of his Stabat mater six months before he orchestrated it. But the fine print reveals that the score Read more was unfinished, and that this is “edited from the composer’s manuscript by Miroslav Srnka.” The French text is even more revealing: “d’après le manuscrit du compositeur, reconstituée par Miroslav Srnka.” That suggests—to me—that this was merely a step along the compositional path, that the composer had no thought of the score being performed without an orchestra. Nevertheless, I find the piano version, at least in this recording, very effective. Despite the enormous choruses that performed it in the 19th century, this is an intimate work, and this performance with piano is the most intimate one I know. Dvo?ák was no pianist (run your mind through his śuvre ), which is both good news and bad. In the gentler moments, the piano part is very simple, often just a one-finger line with a small frill here and there. Once one recovers from the initial shock, the delicate introduction—it is more than three minutes before a voice appears—is lovely. The rousing climaxes, however, sound silly in Dvo?ák’s piano-writing, repetitious ff ostinatos recalling The Perils of Pauline more than a Stabat mater . Unfortunately, this breaks the spell at some crucial moments.

There is a passage in the finale that Dvo?ák later dropped, a gorgeous soprano-tenor duet with chorus; no doubt he thought it too operatic for a Stabat mater , but we are richer for hearing it. One of the work’s many assets is its glorious vocal writing; the tenor part makes anyone who attempts it sound like a junior Pavarotti. These soloists are all fine, sensitive singers, and not having to compete with a symphony orchestra allows them to hang on to the intimacy. Conductor Equilbey founded the chorus Accentus “for the purpose of performing the major works of the a cappella repertoire and engaging with contemporary creation.” Although this is neither, the well-balanced group (eight singers on each part) is an ideal size for this work. She leads a winning performance; her comparatively rapid tempos sound just right without the weighty orchestra. The recorded sound projects a gorgeous ambience, but it can turn a touch shrill in the (very few) louder passages. Texts appear in side-by-side Latin, French, and English. I love this performance (I just grit my teeth through the few Pauline moments), but it can be only a supplement to the great Václav Talich recording.

FANFARE: James H. North
Read less

Works on This Recording

Stabat Mater, Op. 58/B 71 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Pavol Brslik (Tenor), Alexandra Coku (Soprano), Brigitte Engerer (Piano),
Renata Pokupic (Alto), Markus Butter (Bass)
Conductor:  Laurence Equilbey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Accentus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876-1877; Bohemia 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title