Cello Concerto in Minor, Op. 104
Performed by Shen Yun Artists
Yu-Chien Yuan, Cello
Dmitry Russu, Conductor
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra
Widely recognized as one of the great masterpieces written for cello, Antonin Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor emerged towards the end of a prolific career, when he was serving as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Although for years his cellist friend Hanuš Wihan had prodded Dvořák to write a cello concerto, the composer remained unconvinced of its potential as a solo instrument.
That all changed, however, in March 1894 when Dvořák’s colleague Victor Herbert premiered a second cello concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Inspired, Dvořák began setting his new concerto to paper.
The concerto takes on a monumental scale for both soloist and orchestra, exploring the main musical themes woven throughout the three movements with dynamic contrast—an exchange of soaring lyricism, dramatic dialogue, and stirring reflection, including a tribute to his beloved sister-in-law with the melody of one of her favorite German songs, “Lasst mich allein.”
As some may hear in his music, Dvořák was a religious man with strong family values and a love of nature. The concerto showcases the melodic mastery for which the Czech composer is known, as well as his fresh approach of imbuing the great German traditions with the spirit of his Bohemian homeland. Today, it remains one of the most beloved works in the cello repertoire.
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