Jean-Guihen Queyras / Jiří Bělohlávek

Dvorák: Cello Concerto

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

Following a successful recording of Dvorák's Violin Concerto with French violinist Isabelle Faust accompanied by Jirí Belohlávek leading the Prague Philharmonia, Harmonia Mundi has returned from the Czech Republic with a recording of French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras accompanied by Belohlávek and the Prague Philharmonia in Dvorák's Cello Concerto. The results this time are even better than before. As Queyras showed in the previous disc's performance of Dvorák's F minor Trio, he is a passionately expressive, technically faultless, and ever-so-slightly reserved player and his performance here of the Cello Concerto is all those things and more. In his heart of hearts, Queyras is apparently an aspiring romantic leading man whose interpretations are not so much reserved as thoroughly studied and carefully crafted for maximum effect. When the work calls for ardent lyricism in the opening Allegro, he sings every line with wonderful clarity. When the work calls for intimate communion in the central Adagio ma non troppo, his tone seems to draw the music into itself. When the work calls for heroic virtuosity as in the cadenzas, his virtuosity is the aural equivalent of Errol Flynn's swinging from ship to ship in Captain Blood. Queyras' performance of Dvorák's alternately gloomy and giddy "Dumky" Piano Trios with Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov is as superbly played and passionately interpreted as the same ensemble's performance of the F minor Trio on the earlier disc, but it fortunately better catches the work's bipolar switches from lethargic to ecstatic. Belohlávek and the Prague are once again the ideal team to perform warmly toned, lovingly lyrical, and wonderfully idiomatic Dvorák and they do not disappoint. Harmonia Mundi's sound is clear and lush, close and full, vivid and evocative.

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