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Dvorak: Symphonic Works [Box set]

Antonin Dvorak, Vaclav Neumann Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 33.62 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Conductor: Vaclav Neumann
  • Composer: Dvorak
  • Audio CD (30 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Supraphon Records
  • ASIN: B0077DDWEE
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,941 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description

Symphonies - Ouvertures de concert - Poèmes symphoniques / Orchestre Philharmonique Tchèque - Václav Neumann, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Performances and Great Value 2 Aug 2012
By AlanH
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This set contains Neumann's first complete recording of Dvorak's symphonies which I have long preferred to his second, digital, set. There is a freshness here that is somewhat lacking in the later set. Some of the performances are indispensable, particularly the 7th symphony and the shorter works - overtures, symphonic poems and variations. The sound sometimes shows its age, especially in the 1st symphony, but that shouldn't put anyone off - 4 stars instead of 5. The orchestral playing is excellent throughout. Overall, this is a real bargain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody does it better!! 30 May 2014
Format:Audio CD
When it comes to Czech music the Czech Philharmonic are peerless and masters in their own right. Under the baton of Vaclav Neumann these recordings are truly wonderful. Fabulous orchestral arrangements throughout, unrushed with a steady tempo which is perfect for Dvorak's glorious run of symphonies. All the recordings are carefully made with each symphony on an individual cd.. so no symphony movement annoyingly carried over here. If you love Dvorak, you will adore this recording. Another memorable and essential release from Supraphon. Make sure you add it to your library.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Constricted sound at times and occasional neutral interpretations but still memorable 27 April 2012
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Vaclav Neumann (1920-95) was one of the greatest Czech conductors of his era and he was a Dvorak specialist. This new release from Supraphon gathers his symphonic music from that composer in one box and, if this price of less than $7 in USA holds (in April 2012), makes it available to a new generation of listeners as a fantastic buy. Note that, in June 2012, Amazon discontinued offering this set for prices rangning from $6.95 to $10.95 and priced it around $30.

Recorded during the 1960s and 1970s, some of these pieces are in constricted sound. The tone poems after Erben, in particular, were always below par for its period. And Vaclav Neumann was considered by some more a reliable than inspired conductor, even if his old "three-fer" CD boxes of the symphonies were ranked highly by most critics. I enjoyed the last one of those I had, Symphonies Nos. 4-6, which also earned a 10/10 artistry and sound rating from Classics Today.

Personally, Neumann was always one of my favorite conductors in Czech music. He knew the territory and didn't dawdle over little things. He consistently found the big picture and gave it to you appropriately -- as his genuinely good mood in the festive Symphony No. 6 shows. His "New World" symphony is typically big and brassy.

The big plus is the size of this collection -- every symphony and most of the tone poems and overtures Dvorak wrote for orchestra on 8 disks played by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from its heyday with wavering tone in the horns. If you are looking to acquire Dvorak's symphonic music, this is staggering in duration for very little money. Here are the contents courtesy of Supraphon's website:

CD 1
1. Symphony No. 1 in C minor The Bells of Zlonice 47:31 TT

CD 2
1. Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 4 49:56

CD 3
1. Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 10 35:04

2. Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 13 40:58

CD 4
1. Symphony No. 5 in F major, Op. 76 38:21

2. Symphonic Variations for Large Orchestra, Op. 78 22:57

CD 5
1. Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60 43:06

2. Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70 37:29

CD 6
1. Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 37:37

2. In Nature's Realm. Op. 91 14:35

3. Carnival Overture Op. 92 9:24

4. Othello Overture Op. 93 14:18

CD 7
1. Symphony No. 9 in E minor From The New World, Op. 95 41:20

CD 8
1. The Water Goblin. Symphonic poem after K.J.Erben, Op. 107 19:42

2. The Noon Witch. Symphonic poem after K.J.Erben, Op. 108 14:28

3. The Golden Spinning Wheel. Symphonic Poem after K.J.Erben, Op. 109 25:32

4. The Wild Dove. Symphonic poem after K.J.Erben, Op. 110 18:24

If you don't find them here, you can listen to MP3 sound bytes from this set (that probably don't do the CDs justice) at Supraphon's website.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent throughout 2 May 2012
By Nick - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Superb cycle superb value and just to correct an error in the other review Symphonies 1 & 2 are stereo - the entire cycle was recorded over about 18 months in the early 70's. No, the sound is not modern demonstration class but wholly acceptable. At this current price a no-brainer.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Neumann's Dvorak in one steal of a package 10 Jun 2012
By Prescott Cunningham Moore - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Great Dvorak is not in short supply. Kubelik, Kertesz, Rowiki (and to a lesser extent Jarvi and Pesek) have all given us fantastic cycles. But, with the partial exception of the Pesek set, none have come from a truly authentic or idiomatic source. Indeed, Kubelik's Berlin cycle was the last word in orchestral opulence and execution even if it lacked rustic charm while Kertesz's gutsy set featured somewhat colorless playing from the London Symphony. Here, however, we finally have Neumann's complete cycle with the incomparable Czech Philharmonic in one, budget-priced set, which now can stand as the reference edition of these works.

The importance of having the Czech Philharmonic playing this music cannot be overstated. Upon first listening, it is immediately apparent that this orchestral timbre add such depth of color, nuisance, and feeling to the music that other sets are put to shame. Take, for instance, Neumann's Carnival overture. The outer sections have all the typical color and flair that you would expect in this music, but has the central interlude ever sounded more poignant or beautifully shaped? If so, I certainly have not heard it. Or listen to the absolutely crushing climax of the Water Goblin, where Neumann's bright, steely trumpets send shivers down the spine. Nothing can compare to the beautiful, watery sound of Czech clarinets, which bathe the opening of the 5th symphony with unending character or the fabulous, rustic horns, which add an extra dose of horror to the eerie glow of the coda of the 7th's allegro. The strings make much of their parts in the dance movements, particularly the furiant in the sixth and the rhythmically complex scherzos in the 7th and 9th. From top to bottom, the sound is so unlike anything you are likely to hear from any other source which is all the more disturbing because this pallet is exactly what Dvorak had in mind.

Or course, great orchestras do not great cycles make. Neumann, as the man in charge, delivers performances that are, on balance, the best available. The opening of the 4th, a particularly gnarly movement, rarely has sounded so coherent or flowing while the same symphony's endlessly repetitive finale sounds far less tedious than most. The at times rambling 3rd here is given a strong spine coupled with drop-dead spectacular playing. The three big-name symphonies all live up to their star status. Just listen to the absolutely crushing developmental climax and recapitulation in the 8th's allegro or the coda of the same symphony's finale. Neumann knows how to drive to climaxes, shape primary and secondary themes, and prove to the listener that Dvorak was no mean composer when it came to the sonata ideal.

Not only do we get the nine symphonies, but Supraphon has also given us the Overture Triptych, the symphonic variations, and the four symphonic poems to boot. If anything, these works are even better than the symphonies, and that is saying something. Just listen to the "weeping" strings in the Wood Dove or the witch's brouhaha in the Noonday Witch. Spectacular.

Sound is fine for a recording of its time, while Neumann holds to the convention of the day in not observing exposition repeats, a sad error in my mind. Allegros are generally measured, slow movements flowing, dances are quick, and finale's are played to the hilt. A must have for any Dvorak collection.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Box of Great Interpretations From "The" Czech Masters 21 Jun 2012
By Gregory E. Foster - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Vaclav Neumann had a long distinguished career with his Czech forces . He had lived this music, it was in his blood for sure, and it showed over and over throughout all those years in his recordings and performances, and, particularly in his Dvorak readings.

This traversal, newly released for the first time on CD disc, was prepared and recorded in the 1970's. He would revisit them one last time for Supraphon before he passed away in 1995. These latter recordings are those of an old master and, indeed, show great inner reflection from having lived with this music for so very long. However, they can be over meditative, somewhat lethargic, geriatric (if you will) in their thinking and execution. Still viable however as last-thought readings, but as a stand-out set, the ribbon must go to these recordings here, recorded nearly 20 years prior. They sparkle. They are driven with passion and fire and the nationalism that Dvorak had and has come to be known for.

The remastering here is notated as being AAD, meaning that the master tapes originally used in mixing down are apparently lost and so the final finished tapes were used in the preparation for these discs. This results, naturally, in some flattening, distortion, and constriction of fidelity in some passages, so do not expect sound that will sit you back in your seat. They are, however, very good representational and well preserved and presented recordings from the pre-digital era...only the extreme, most-pickey, will have any problem with them. Personally, I can be very fussy...but I also have the ability to recognize releases of great historical value and thus overlook flaws, both minor and more serious, for the great opportunity to witness greatness as displayed here by Neumann and the Czech P. O. You will find nothing here that will be off-putting or disappoint you.

Now, as to the "necessity" of this set.... I have many many sets of Dvorak symphonies, et al., and must state that the Kertesz has so long been my favorite, followed by the Kubelik, that they seem a "must" for 1st and 2nd place for me. But, this set by Neumann is a Solid 3rd, and if I did not have either, or both, of the other two sets, then I could easily see this set as a first choice.

Regardless, you are sure to be pleased with and come to truly love these lovely old me!

Enjoy them!

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, but no better than average 14 Oct 2012
By Mark E. Stenroos - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I must disagree with the other reviewers here who find this set to be unique and/or equal to or better than the competition. It simply isn't.

The sound is slightly dry and relatively flat. The interpretations offer no great insights. There just isn't any sweep or sense of freedom in the interpretations. One expects an orchestra and conductor with a long performance history of a particular repertoire to either bring great insight or stultifying boredom to the proceedings. This set sort of sits in the middle between those two extremes, and not in a good way.

The Czech Phil sounds as it always sounds, which is great in many respects, provincial in others. As a former oboist, I'm not one who finds "fruity' winds attractive (whatever fruity means. I'd just remind people that fruit can easily go sour.). I'm not a fan of nasal French horns. I'm not a fan of narrow-toned bass sections in an orchestra. Yes - it's nice to hear this music played by an orchestra that has resisted the kind of homogenous sound one hears on the international scene these days, but there is no great gain in style or interpretation to make this set stand out as being uniquely interesting. And some of the interpretive choices are downright provincial, like the clipped note values that disfigure the first movement of the 8th which - coupled with trombones that sound like they were airlifted from the local circus - ignore the tenets of basic musicality.

I was one of those who got this set through amazon at their ridiculous loss leader price. Yes, it was worth the under-$10 price I paid. Is it worth the current asking price of $50-plus? No, it isn't, not if you're looking for a good basic complete set, which in my opinion gives Kubelik/Berlin Phil pride of place, followed by Järvi, Kertesz (whose Dvorak recordings I'm not as gaga about as are others) and Rowicki a close fourth. Kubelik, Kertesz and Rowicki are each available for under $35 and are self-recommending as good to great recordings at an attractive price. In addition, all of those sets benefit from a warmth in the basic recorded sound that is absent in this Supraphon set. And to me, Dvorak without a warm recorded sound is less than it could be.

When it comes to the later symphonies one is spoiled for choice - no need to go into that option here.
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