Violinist’s immensely enjoyable journey through a landscape of Czech music

Augustin Hadelich: Bohemian Tales

Augustin Hadelich: Bohemian Tales

The Strad Issue: August 2020

Description: Violinist’s immensely enjoyable journey through a landscape of Czech music

Musicians: Augustin Hadelich (violin) Charles Owen (piano) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jakub Hrůša

Works: Dvořák: Violin Concerto in A minor op.53; Larghetto from Four Romantic Pieces op.75; Songs My Mother Taught Me from Gypsy Songs op.55; Humoresque op.101 no.7. Janáček: Violin Sonata. Suk: Four Pieces op.17

Catalogue Number: WARNER CLASSICS 9029527476

Never mind that Janáček was Moravian rather than Bohemian: this a delightful collection of music from the Czech lands. In the Dvořák Violin Concerto, the most substantial work on the disc, Augustin Hadelich combines vigour with refinement and his playing can really sing when required. He begins the slow movement with a dark, brooding tone that gradually lightens with the changing mood of the music; and his finale is rhythmically charged yet light on its feet. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Rafael Kubelík’s old sparring partner) offers playing of authentic Bohemian warmth under the experienced baton of Jakub Hrůša.

For the rest of the programme, Hadelich is joined by the indefatigable Charles Owen, who thrills particularly in the piano part of the final Suk piece and in the rhetoric of the Janáček Sonata. Hadelich sometimes allows himself a slightly queasier, more sugary vibrato than in the concerto, but one gets used to it, and he can reduce his tone to touching simplicity in, for instance, the Dvořák ‘encores’. Janáček’s pithy, technique-challenging Sonata and Suk’s resourceful Four Pieces certainly hold the ear as engaging interpretations, and both chamber and orchestral components of the disc are recorded with plenty of warmth and depth.