Guitar Slide Wednesday: 105th Post Version

In honor of the 105th post here at the blog, I’m veering off our Guitar Slide Wednesday path just a bit (again). While I’d like to say it’s simply because I’m equal opportunity when it comes to music on the blog, it’s really because I’m a procrastinator. I’m briefly stepping away from my American popular music research confines and giving a small pre-concert lecture tomorrow night for a real, live orchestra, playing (lower-case “c”) classical music. Of course, I have waited until nearly the last minute (I’m a professional, remember) to put it together, and so I’m now quite tuned in to Dvořák.

Below you will find the first movement (split into two videos) of the Dvořák Cello Concerto in B Minor performed by Mstislav Rostropovich with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting the London Philharmonic. As you likely know, a concerto is a large scale work featuring a solo instrument with an orchestra, usually in three movements, though some have four. Antonin Dvořák was born in Bohemia (current Czech Republic) and composed all kinds of awesome music in a wide range of genres (yes, I’m still working on that part of the lecture). His most well known work is likely his ninth symphony (“New World”).

The performance of the cello concerto below is a bit slower than the recording I’m most familiar with (Mischa Maisky with Zubin Mehta conducting the Berlin Philharmonic), and according to Cello Doctor, János Starker also does an excellent job with this piece. The sliding that you can see throughout these videos is officially called portamento (please note: that link will immediately yell pronounce the word for you). The movement opens with the main theme, but you get the full force of the orchestra playing that theme at 1:00. The horns have the lovely second theme around 2:30, and the cello enters at 4:00 with the main theme. You’ll see a nice little slide around 4:40, but the highlight for me is around 6:15 when the cello gets the lovely second theme.

Enjoy your foray into classical music today! In the mean time, I shall be practicing my pronunciation of all kinds of Polish and Czech names!

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