Antonin Dvorák

Cello Concerto in B minor, B. 191 (Op. 104)

    Description by Allen Schrott

    Opus 104 was Dvorák's second and final attempt at writing a cello concerto. The first, a 50-minute work in A major, was written very early in his career (1865), when his style was still markedly derived from those of his models -- of which Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert are most notable. He had also recently encountered the music of Richard Wagner, which perhaps helps to explain the grand scale of the work. The resulting effort was not very satisfactory to the composer, and Dvorák never bothered to orchestrate it; he would not attempt to write another (the work at hand) until thirty years later, after he had written all nine of his symphonies (not to mention numerous operatic, choral, orchestral, chamber, piano, and vocal works). Upon reading through the finished product, completed in February 1895, Dvorák's colleague and friend, Brahms, is said to have remarked, "Why on earth didn't I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? Had I known, I would have written one long ago."

    The first performance was given in 1896 in London under Dvorák's own direction, with Leo Stern as the soloist. The cellist was to have been Hanus Wihan (a close friend of the composer, to whom the work was dedicated), but there were misunderstandings surrounding Wihan's suggested revisions (including the addition of a last-movement cadenza) to the publisher without the composer's consent. Wihan did eventually perform the work, as did many other artists; the concerto has retained a solid place in the modern repertory.

    Although the concerto's solo part is demanding, the work is by no means a bravura showpiece. Instead, the orchestra and soloist form an integral whole; Dvorák's refusal to accept Wihan's somewhat flashy revisions to the solo part show that he was determined to make the piece much more than a vehicle for virtuosity. Throughout the work there is a freshness of invention and sense of inevitable direction that betrays nothing of the thorough and painstaking revisions Dvorák himself undertook; it seems instead to have flowed effortlessly from the composer's pen.

    The first movement (Allegro) is constructed around two main themes, the first of which (in B minor) is surprisingly brief, and the second of which (largely pentatonic, stated by solo horn), was one of the composer's personal favorites. The passing of these ideas back and forth between the soloist and orchestra allows for substantial thematic development; the first, brief theme is given substantially more weight in the eventual recapitulation.

    In contrast to the dynamic first movement, the second (Adagio ma non troppo) opens with a more peaceful theme in G major. A middle section in G minor incorporates the melody from Dvorák's own song, "Leave me alone" -- a favorite tune of his sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzova, who had taken ill during the concerto's composition. Dvorák was very devoted to her, and her death not long after his return home would cause him to revise the end of the work to include the same song in a lengthy epilogue. The finale (Allegro moderato) is an energetic rondo, followed by an epilogue which recalls the opening of the first movement, as well as the song mentioned above.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio ma non troppo
    3. Finale. Allegro moderato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2019 Brilliant Classics BRI 95782
    2018 Menuetto Classics
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 18017
    2018 Affetto AF 1806
    2018 ARC ARCXRCD 806
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4798418
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Warner Classics 0190295697693
    2018 ICA Classics ICAC 5149
    2017 CuGate Classics CGC 029
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295775070
    2017 Decca
    2017 Audite AUD 97734
    2017 NEOS NEOS 21602
    2017 SWR Music SWR 19028 CD
    2017 Naxos 8503293
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88875169792
    2016 BIS 2157
    2016 Doremi Records DHR 803839
    2016 Decca / Philips 4788977
    2016 Navona Records NV 6034
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795553
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894794110
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Menuetto Classics
    2015 Praga PRD 350112
    2015 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186488
    2015 Dux Records DUX 0804
    2015 Hi. Q / Hi-Q Records 45
    2015 Universal Distribution
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 1828
    2015 Audite AUDITE 95628
    2015 Radio France FRF 02027
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795229
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94934BR
    2015 Sony Classics 513074
    2015 Audite 21433
    2014 Brilliant Classics 97938
    2014 Decca B002110502
    2014 Orfeo C 855141A
    2014 Decca B 001976502 DH
    2014 Decca
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4792561
    2014 Tahra TAH 766767
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Entertainment Group 107198
    2013 Virgin Classics 5099973529
    2013 Hyperion CDA 67917
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon / Speakers Corner DGG SLPM 138755
    2013 Supraphon SU 41232
    2013 Naxos 8501702
    2013 Signum Classics SIGCD 322
    2013 Erato 5099961581029
    2013 Sony Classical 88765438572
    2012 Entertainment Group 12802
    2012 Telarc TEL 33707-25
    2012 Telarc / Telarc Distribution TEL 3292702
    2012 Concord / Contact Records, Inc.
    2012 Telarc Distribution
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Chandos CHAN 10715X
    2012 Sony Classical 88697553602
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099962307
    2012 Warner Classics 9141025
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099991410
    2012 Universal / Universal Music
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2012 Decca / Mercury Living Presence 001653302
    2012 Andromeda ANDRCD 9111
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94098
    2011 Sony Classical 56112
    2011 The Entertainment Group 1032
    2011 Regis Records RRC1368
    2011 RCA Red Seal 88697899792
    2011 BBC Legends BBCL 50052
    2010 EMI Classics
    2010 Supraphon 40252
    2010 Documents 232749
    2010 Erato
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    2010 Supraphon 40342
    2010 Doron Music DRC3055
    2010 Gall (formerly Gallo) / Gallo 1305-07
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 509996886272
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 4778167
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Sony Classical 752307
    2009 Denon Records 00795041940865
    2009 Bella Musica / Zebralution
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    2009 Denon Records
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    2009 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099951903
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    2009 Lontano 4691060
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93260
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    2009 Document 231058
    2009 Documents / Membrane 232768
    2009 Documents/Membran / Membran 231885
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 7526602
    2008 Virgin Classics 482019
    2008 EMI Classics 5675932
    2008 EMI Classics 5628032
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 459193
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 474167
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93674
    2008 Classics for Pleasure
    2008 Medici Arts 28-2
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93166
    2008 Warner Classics & Jazz 2564 69681-7
    2008 Supraphon 39652
    2008 EMI Classics 09442
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics 586597
    2008 Decca 4780114
    2007 Opus KURA 2061
    2007 Apex
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    2007 Channel Classics 25807
    2007 Document 223603
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950416
    2007 Urania 327
    2007 Sony Music Distribution / RCA 714370
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon
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    2007 Decca 4758566
    2006 Harmonia Mundi 801867
    2006 Virgin Classics 363287
    2006 Erato
    2006 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006 Apex 0927-40600-2
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99386
    2005 Decca 4756327
    2005 EMI Classics
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    2005 EMI Music Distribution 62953
    2005 Archipel 329
    2005 Designo 222508
    2005 RCA Red Seal 66375
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    2004 Naïve 4969
    2004 Sony Classical / Sony Classical Essential Classics 93072
    2004 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 562952-2
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    2004 Delta Distribution 16389
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 000291702
    2004 BBC Legends 41492
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    2004 Naxos 8501701
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    2004 Centurion Classics 2066
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    2003 Archipel 99
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 575865-2
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    2003 Classica d'Oro 1071
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    2003 Laserlight / Delta Distribution 40043
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    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) / Brentwood Records 40185
    2002 JVC Compact Discs 14
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    2002 Classica d'Oro 9003
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    2001 Naxos 110930
    2001 Dutton Laboratories 9709
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    2000 Datum 12324
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    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 447398
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    1997 Point Classics 267162
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    1996 Gemini Collection 617
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 65937
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    1996 Testament 1016
    1996 Pearl 9198
    1996 Channel Classics 8695
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 68745
    1996 EMI Classics 65701
    1995 Sony Classical Essential Classics 67173
    1995 Seraphim UK 568521
    1995 RCA 68186
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 68837
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon 447413
    1995 EMI Classics 724356848528
    1994 Multisonic 0039
    1994 Naxos 550503
    1994 Philips 441401
    1994 BIS 245
    1994 Supraphon 1901
    1994 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 7243568132
    1994 Pearl 9077
    1993 Pearl 9935
    1993 Supraphon 1115442
    1993 Virgin Classics 59325
    1993 Pearl 9349
    1992 Chandos 8662
    1992 Vox 5502
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46337
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 63498
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429155
    1990 Mercury 432001
    1989 Deutsche Grammophon
    1989 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777763283
    1989 CBS Records / Columbia 44562
    1988 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    1988 EMI Music Distribution 49306
    1987 EMI
    1986 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777747614
    1986 CBS Records 42206
    1980 Tahra 136
    1980 Tahra 116
    Arlecchino 171
    RCA 68086
    Strings 99317
    Grammofono 2000 78810
    Historical Performers 28
    Panton Records 1211
    UNT Collece of Music
    Guild 7235
    Brilliant 92771/2
    EMI Music Distribution 66277
    Lys 188
    Digital Concerto 686
    Grammofono 2000 78730
    Denon Records 78830
    Panton Records 0706
    Memoria 991008
    Panton Records 810706
    RCA 60717
    Musique d'Or 1033
    Enterprise 941
    Supraphon 110631
    Supraphon 111901
    Melodram 18037
    Vox 5015
    Panton Records 811211
    As Disc 630
    Supraphon 1152
    Finlandia 98886
    Russian Revelation 10088
    Arkadia 615
    Teldec 18950
    Excelsior Recordings 31004
    High Definition Classics 004
    Classica d'Oro 4003
    Philips 412880
    Laserlight 14092
    Philips 420873
    Deutsche Grammophon 469070
    Cube Bohemia 2425
    Garyn Studios
    Iron Needle 1338
    Legend 141
    Sony Music Entertainment 61714
    Grand Gala 2137
    London 410144
    BBC Music Magazine 211
    Teldec 85340
    Angel Records 69803B
    Erato 45252
    Deutsche Grammophon 413819
    Winterthur
    Brilliant Classics 93674/9
    Brilliant 92396/9
    Brilliant 93166/4
    Arlecchino 137
    Arlecchino 10
    Phaedra 492002
    As Disc 361
    Naxos 554103
    History 205236
    Monopoly 2006
    Aura Classics 0242
    Supraphon 0546
    Monitor 72090
    Quintessence 2106
    Arlecchino 169
    Arlecchino 185
    Arlecchino 165
    Archiv Produktion 116
    Grammofono 2000 78636
    History 2031931
    UNT College of Music