The complete Brilliant Classics recordings of a masterful modern maestro with a touch of genius in little-known repertoire.
In the extensive booklet interview, the conductor Theodore Kuchar recalls how, as a boy growing up outside Cleveland to Ukrainian-born parents, he learnt his music at the feet of Lorin Maazel, sitting in the cheap seats every week. Sound training and determination took him to Helsinki as violist and part-time conductor for the Finnish Opera, thence to Brisbane for his first musical directorship in charge of the Queensland Philharmonic.
But it was in 1992 that Kuchar discovered his roots and began to establish an international reputation when he took over the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine. Together they have given lengthy tours worldwide, hundreds of concerts and made many recordings for several labels. The theatre music by Shostakovich was particularly successful and holds a treasured place in Kuchar’s heart: ‘The Bolt is absolute genius. I’ve done it with every orchestra I’ve had a long relationship with, and every time it knocks an audience sideways.’
In the early 2000s Kuchar also worked regularly with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra based in Ostrava, formerly known as the Czech Radio Orchestra. Together they recorded the major – and most of the minor – orchestral works by Smetana, the best-known tone-poems of Dvořák and even the complete symphonies of Carl Nielsen, which became a critical hit. Since then Kuchar has conducted orchestras throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. As music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela he led a vibrantly colourful collection of Latin-American orchestral classics (by Ginastera, Moncayo and Revueltas among others) for the last disc on this retrospective, recorded in 2011.
‘Theodore Kuchar is one of today's most dynamic, most successful young conductors… every instrumental effect comes through beautifully… Tempos are generally rapid and spirits high… this is a lot of fine Dvorák for a very low price.’ (Fanfare) ‘This is a recording of very high worth by a conductor of genius. Each and every minute of every piece on this three-CD [Smetana] set is emotionally committed, tautly controlled, propulsive, and stunning. I haven’t heard a Má vlast or Bartered Bride Overture this good on records in eons.’ (Fanfare)
‘These performances [of Latin-American classics] are very slick. The tightness of ensemble in Moncayo’s Huapango shows up the sloppiness of most other versions. Kuchar sets and maintains a perfect tempo here and elsewhere. The recording quality is sharp-edged and bright, adding to the excitement. (Fanfare)
‘Theodore Kuchar leads what is without question the most exciting complete Nielsen symphony cycle available, making this the set to get for Nielsen newcomers.’ (Classics Today)
This set brings together the recordings conductor Theodore Kuchar made for Brilliant Classics: the complete symphonies by Carl Nielsen, the Symphonic Poems by Dvorák, the orchestral works by Smetana, ballet suites by Shostakovich and a recording of Latin American classics. All these recording have met with enthusiastic critical acclaim: “10/10: first recommendation in this repertoire..terrific sonics..irresistable package..”(Classicstoday on Shostakovich), “Theodore Kuchar is an extremely exciting and talented conductor..thrilling, with uninhibited abandon”(Classicstoday on Dvorák), “Theodore Kuchar leads what is without question the most exciting complete Nielsen symphony cycle available, 9/9”(Classicstoday on Nielsen), “with plenty of enthusiasm and vigor..hard to beat..one of the best versions available..”(Classicstoday on Smetana). The Latin-American program was nominated for a Latin Grammy.
Theodore Kuchar (1963) was born in New York. He studied the viola and conducting, and was for a period principal violist of the Cleveland Orchestra. He is one of the most sought-after conductors of his time, active with the Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, Janacek SO, Venezuelan SO and others.