Dvorak Violin Concerto - Classic FM Magazine
This is a recording that does more than give pleasure in its own right (although it does that in spades). It's also of a kind that can take your perceptions of the composer and his music onto a different level. The natural appeal of Dvorak's style is deservedly time-honoured. Meanwhile this disc reminds us that his music can also offer serious emotional weight, along with an inventive imagination that can hold its own in any company.
All this is happily proclaimed both by the loveliness and incisive class of the orchestra's playing, and by Swensen's capacity for leading by example. He brings remarkable firepower to the Violin Concerto's solo part, plus an unaffected, gloss-free lyrical grace that suits the music's sunlit moods as truly as its darker ones. The Czech Suite's folk-music tunefulness here emerges as that end something more, a masterly exercise in musical light and shade, while the Nocturne in B major reveals Dvorak's underrated radical streak, with a middle section conjuring marvellous harmonic adventures above a single sustained bass note. And for good measure, the more deliberately sophisticated Waltz No. 1 from Op.54 shows that Dvorak could play that game too.