Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Style, authenticity and tradition


In his especially perceptive liner notes to this new Busch Trio Dvorak disc from Alpha, Jan Smaczny talks about the composer being pulled by two opposite forces: the folkloric music of Bohemia and the Austro-German style of Brahms and his circle. This dynamic of nationalism versus trans-national style can be seen in many other composers: Villa-Lobos, for example, navigated between the modernism of Paris and the particularly Brazilian melding of folkoric traditions. Similarly, Aaron Copland's music saw Americana struggling with that same Parisian style, and Vaughan Williams was in the middle of a tug-of-war between Ravel and English Folk Song. But whether acknowledging Brahms' musical mentorship and personal friendship, or harking back to his roots, Dvorak was always authentic, and his music speaks in his own voice. The young musicians of the Busch Trio have caught that voice in the manner of a great actor creating a historic figure, with technical assurance and style.



They also are playing in the tradition of a great musician, their namesake Adolf Busch. This is about more than just the fact that violinist Mathieu van Bellen plays Adolf Busch’s own 1783 Guadagnini violin; rather the group has the same lean and brilliant way of attacking the great music of 19th century Europe.



From the liner notes:


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