Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Sample Eastern Europe

“Echoes of Eastern Europe” accurately describes this new album. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra presents two works inspired by Czecho-Slovak music. 

The BPO’s partnership with JoAnne Falletta has been a fruitful one. The orchestra is now a world-class ensemble with an impressive catalog. And they have explored neglected areas of the repertoire 

This album pairs a 19th and a 21st-Century work. David Serkin Ludwig’s violin concerto was a present for his wife, Belia Hristova. The concerto is an exciting, energetic work.  It references the Slavic dances of her heritage. 

Hristrova plays with a fiery, gritty tone. Her violin at times sounds like a fiddle — which is the intent. Falletta and the BSO Enthusiastically join in the celebration. 

Antonin Dvorak never strayed far from his Czech roots. His Symphony No. 7 was completed in 1885. Dvorak’s immediate inspiration was Brahm’s Third Symphony with a taste of Bohemia. 

Donald Tovey wrote, “[this symphony is] among the greatest and purest examples in this art form since Beethoven.” And so it is. The symphony follows the traditional four-movement symphonic structure. Themes are developed logically and organically. 

The work is pure music (there’s no program attached). But careful listening reveals some Czech influences. Sometimes it’s a rhythm or a melodic turn. It follows Ludwig’s concerto on the album, so the ear is already attuned to hear folk elements. 

The BSO and Falletta give the symphony a stirring reading. It’s a performance I found satisfying with repeated listening. 

I do have one complaint about the album, though, and that’s the cover. I’d call it echoes of a good album cover. The figures are weirdly blurred.  The image says almost nothing (at least to me) about the music.

Don’t judge this release by its cover. The artwork may be clumsily executed, but the performances within are both first-rate. 

Echoes of Eastern Europe
David Ludwig: Violin Concerto; Antonin Dvorak: Symphony No. 7
Bella Hristova, violin
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor

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