I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the first release in the BSO's Dvorak cycle: an eccentric account of the `New World' symphony, with strange tempo choices and erratic emphasis made me think that perhaps Serebrier was not the man for the job. However, by contrast, this latest instalment was very much to my liking, and I'd go as far as to say this is possibly the best release by this orchestra in a long while (NB: That's not to say that they haven't released some superb recordings, just that this one in particular is of the very highest calibre).
Where to start? The appeal of the music has always been its strong melodic content, and native bands such as the Czech Philharmonic have generally found a rich warm sound which seems to spring naturally from the middle European soul. However British orchestras have a fine track record in Czech music, and a long list of conductors to match, giving idiomatic performances which at their best concede no prizes to Czech or Slovak ensembles.
This is the case here. Serebrier may not even hail from the same continent, but he very much has the measure of this repertoire and he elicits characterful playing from the BSO. Every department has its moment in the sun, and there are no weak links in the orchestral palette. The string sound is burnished, woodwind and brass distinguished and there is something joyful in the playing throughout. This is an orchestra on top form, basking in the sunshine and relishing every moment.
This is a glorious CD which I can't recommend highly enough.