Recorded on 12/20/2005, uploaded on 01/09/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Though the Cello Concerto in B minor stands as one of the greatest concertos ever written for the instrument, Dvořák surprisingly did not hold a high opinion of the instrument itself. While he thought it a fine orchestral instrument and was partial to its rich middle register, the upper register was too nasal and the rough low register unclear. Consequently, the Concerto in B minor is one of only two original works for the cello. However, Dvořák did arrange some of his other compositions for the cello. A particular case, in which the cello arrangement has become more popular than the original form, is “Silent Woods” from his opus 68, From the Bohemian Forest.
Composed during 1883-84, From the Bohemian Forest is a set of six pieces for piano four hands, each with a descriptive title. Some ten years later, Dvořák chose the fifth piece of the set, “Silent Woods,” and arranged it for cello solo with both piano and orchestral accompaniment. In hushed tones, the piece begins with a syncopated melody in the cello over soft pedaled chords in the piano. This peaceful atmosphere continues on until the close of the first section. Alternating between the tonic triad and an augmented second harmony, a magical tone begins to overtake the dreamy scene. Following this brief interlude, the middle section changes to the key of the tonic minor and adopts a new melody with a prominent triplet rhythm. Still chiefly lyrical but imbued with an almost march-like vigor, the cello and piano share an equal role in presenting the melodic material of the middle section. Tension builds until the syncopated duple rhythm of the opening section returns in the piano amid the cello’s triplets and leads directly into the reprise of the principal melody. After a shortened statement of the opening section, the cello climbs its way to a high A-flat under which the piano recalls the triplet rhythms of the middle section. Descending back through its middle and low register, the cello finally reaches a sustained low D-flat and the piano gives quiet rolled tonic chords to conclude the piece. Joseph DuBose
Silent Woods was originally composed as one of a set of pieces for piano four-hands in 1883, and transcribed by the composer in 1893 for cello and orchestra.
This single-movement work begins with a beautiful melody which is exchanged between soloist and accompanist. A central motif suggesting a hunting-horn's repeated notes proves a source of some emotional conflict. A middle section in the relative minor key reaches a dramatic climax before returning to the major key and melody of the opening. Marina Hoover
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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