5 February 2011

Antonin Dvořák - Cello Concerto

Okay so it's not monday yet, but I felt like writing anyway. I think I might start writing a post twice a week instead of just once. There are simply so many pieces of music I want to share and write about! Like this one, another absolute classic, namely Antonin Dvořák's Cello Concerto, (third movement). I love how bombastic yet beautiful this entire concerto is. It's incredibly catchy and melodic but also satisfies my need for loudness.

Part 1:

Part two:

As opposed to the previous music I've posted, you all can see that this are actual videos. There's a couple of reasons why I decided against just audio, the main one being that this is a great performance and recording that's worth watching as well as listening to. The orchestra is the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra from Venezuela who I love because as you'll see, it's actually a youth orchestra! Venezuela is well-known for having this great program called El Sistema, which has resulted in 125 youth orchestras in that country (how amazing is that?). The conducter you see here is Gustavo Dudamel (he seems quite subdued in these videos, actually), also from Venezuela and perhaps a result of El Sistema (I say perhaps because he already comes from a musical family so might've been involved in music regardless of the system). I find him incredibly interesting to watch because you can see just how involved he is in the music (he's also very young for such a succesful conductor, he just turned 30). And most importantly, he has glorious hair. The cellist is Jian Wang, and unfortunately I don't really know anything about him, other than that he plays this concerto like a badass. My actual favourite recording of this concerto is one played by Rostropovich (arguably the best cellist of the 20th century), but this one's amazing as well.

Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) was a Czech composer who's probably most well-known for his Ninth Symphony you might recognize it) 'From the New World' which was somewhat of an ode to the US, where he spent 3 years (apparently Neil Armstrong took a recording of it into space with him, you have to admit that that's pretty awesome).He wrote a whole bunch of amazing things though, my favourites (apart from the cello concerto) are his Eighth Symphony, Requiem and Rusalka (the opera). I have to admit that there's a lot of his compositions that I'm not yet familiar with though, but it makes me quite happy to know that there's still so much of his I can discover and fall in love with.

If you enjoy this fragment I suggest listening to the entire concerto. Movement I, part 1, Mvt I, part 2, Mvt II, part 1, Mvt II, part 2. You might also enjoy his violin concerto, which you can find here (first movement).


  1. It is an interesting proposition that performances can be worth seeing as well as hearing, although I'm not sure whether you mean that music can have a visual aspect, (much like Scriabin felt), or whether you mean that it is interesting independently, like looking at pictures of poets can be worthwhile, next to reading their poems.

    In my opinion some pieces, such as the Wood/Wild Dove by Dvorak, or better the Isle of the Dead by Rachmanioff, are meant to be heard with eyes closed and images pictured. Listening to the Isle of the Dead one can not only hear the waves, but see them in some strange fashion, if one is not distracted by the movements of the orchestra. And yet to watch the musicians practicing their craft can really be rewarding, my favorite on youtube being this video here, (which is especially remarkable for its perfectly suited ambient sounds, such as the child at 6.03.)

    As for Dvorak, I love him but I've never really given his Cello Concerto much of a chance, as the first movement has always irritated me a bit. However, through this intervening of yours, I now see that I made a mistake as the third is definitely worth listening to and again. (And that hair is definitely fantastic too!)

    Anyhow, by this comment I wanted to thank you for your most noble blogging efforts, and to encourage you to continue, as a future-dedicated-reader, etc.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment! I'm really happy you like my blog and especially that I've converted you into liking Dvorak's concerto after all!

    I think what I was trying to say is that when I go to classical concerts, it's often simply a lot of fun to watch the performers as well as listen to the piece. Especially when you have an exciting conductor (my favourites are Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Esa-Pekka Salonen, they jump around a lot :D) or an exciting soloist (like a Nikolai Lugansky who moves along to all the music, or someone like Joshua Bell or Pekka Kuustico), it just adds a little something to the performace. There's such beauty and intensity in watching performers love what they do, and really seeing how the music flows through them.

    But I agree with you that some pieces are made to be heard rather than watched (and I LOVE Isle of the Dead btw, it's one of my favourite Rachmaninov pieces), and I do actually close my eyes a lot when I'm at a concert, so there's nothing to distract me from the beauty of the music.

    Thanks again for your comment!

  3. My favorite version of Dvořák's cello concerto is by du Pré and Celibidache. Jackie's cello could sing.