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23.3.12

Prague's Week

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Charles T. Downey, NSO and Washington Chorus offer deeply felt performance of Dvorak’s ‘Stabat Mater’
Washington Post, March 23, 2012

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Dvořák, Stabat mater dolorosa, Bavarian Radio Symphony, R. Kubelik
Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra have run quite a marathon this month. They have performed a slew of concerts for the Kennedy Center’s festival celebrating the music of Budapest, Prague and Vienna. It all culminated in their Thursday night performance of Antonin Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater Dolorosa,” Op. 58.

The NSO’s three main contributions to the festival have all featured vocal works, with the Dvorak following two operas (“Duke Bluebeard’s Castle” and “Fidelio,” representing Budapest and Vienna, respectively). Critic Kurt Honolka has called Dvorak’s choral masterpiece “the first great sacred work in Czech music,” making it quite an appropriate choice to represent Prague. While the other works had not been heard since the 1970s, the NSO last performed the “Stabat Mater” as recently as 1992, when it was new to the orchestra. [Continue reading]
Antonín Dvořák, Stabat mater dolorosa (score, op. 58)
National Symphony Orchestra, Washington Chorus
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

PREVIOUSLY:
Fidelio (March 17) and Duke Bluebeard's Castle (March 9)
Robert R. Reilly, Choral Arts Society of Washington (March 17, 2008)

Last week, David Patrick Stearns published an assessment of Eschenbach's tenure in Washington so far, in the Philadelphia Inquirer. One of the questions he posed was where the interesting programming Eschenbach has brought to the NSO was when he was music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a rocky period to say the least. The difference has been, according to Stearns, that his additional position as music director of the Kennedy Center "means he is less likely to have ambitious, big-budget plans overruled -- which reportedly was the case in Philadelphia." So far, it must be said, Philadelphia's loss is Washington's gain.

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