06-30-2014 Last year, in 2013, I decided to learn the entire Symphonies of Antonin Dvorak, and this Philips 2 CD pack was one of the first releases I bought for my study project. I was not disappointed, no, not in the least. Stepping up a bit in price, I next got the cycle with Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic on EMI and found that even more well done. Either sets are more than adequate on which to learn the style of this great composer, with the Neumann, clearly the better of the two selections.
I used to think that composers needed to "warm-up" in their symphonic writing, before they could give us a quality product, but that is clearly not so, as one hears in these Early Symphonies of Dvorak. He presented the world with a fine work his first time out and these initial 3 Symphonies are surprisingly good, and even sound as mature compositions should. No "sins of my youth" here, but fully expressive complete and interesting adventures into the sound world of this Czech Master. Rowicki and his London Symphony play these works with commitment and flavor as this conductor shows himself to be an admirer of Dvorak's style and technique. But, more importantly, he understands this composer at his very base and, if I didn't know Rowicki was a Polish conductor, I might have thought him Bohemian. Another issue is the length of these symphonies, none of them are short as #1 and #2 top out each at over 51 and a half minutes, while Symphony #3 comes in at 35:44, collectively giving us over 2hours and 20 plus minutes of delightful early Dvorak. I could go on and on, but that would only wear out the whole point of this review, and that point is this. These are very well written, played and recorded works and should be included in everyone's library, so take my advise, and get yours today. Highly recommended and a solid 4 star rating for this release. Happy listening for many hours and God bless you all, Tony.