on 27 May 2004
This one is long-time member of top recordings of Slavonic Dances. As a big admirer of my country's best composer, I've heard many performances and recordings. Above all with Czech conudctors, this one is probably the best. Strongly recommended for any serious listener of classical music, looking for most excellent performances. DG did good job in clearing and remastering the old LP tapes this time. In this case, five stars is fully adequate for the recording.
I was at first a little taken aback by Kubelik's hectic pace in the opening dance of Op. 46, and even when he pulls back a bit, the pace and drive of his beat rarely let up. Thus while the pulse of his interpretations sweeps you along, in both sets of dances charm can be in short supply. The "poco allegro" of No. 3 is still fairly breathless and the "allegretto" in No. 6. is still brisk. As such, we are encouraged more to admire the verve and clipped precision of his direction than we admire qualities such as warmth and elegance. Having said that, No. 2 in Op. 72 really is "grazioso" and the swagger and drive of Kubelik's interpretations are certainly often impressive. He has clearly imparted to the Bavarian orchestra his love for the music in combination with a really authentic sounding empathy for its lilting rhythms. I would still like him to indulge in a little more rallentando during the famous No. 7 and am surprised to find that I actually prefer that supposedly dry old stick Szell in several of the quirkier numbers. The "furiant" of No. 8 is exciting and helped by the accuracy of the percussion and the tangy woodwind. I think it is true to observe that Dvorak's inspiration slightly flags half way through Op. 72 but picks up again for the last two numbers. The "allegro vivace" of No. 7 really comes alive under Kubelik's driven, intense manner, whereas the last dance is truly affectionate.
The sound is now cleaned up and free of shrillness; avoid the earlier, cheaper "Galleria" disc, which is not remastered to standard. I shall not part with the classic Szell recording, which does certain numbers better than anyone, but this Kubelik set is still an admirable issue. It remains a classic recording.