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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Performances and Great Value, 2 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Dvorak: Symphonic Works (Audio CD)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dvorak symphonic recordings that I keep returning to, 3 Aug 2014
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dvorak: Symphonic Works (Audio CD)
From the opening chords of the performance of the First Symphony, `The Bells of Zlonice' it is clear that this is one of the great collections of Dvorak's symphonic works, interpretively on a par with contemporary cycles by Kertész, who includes all the repeats, and the under-rated Rowicki [both with the London Symphony Orchestra], and Kubelik [Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra] but with the distinct advantage of Czech players.

The Symphonic Variations were recorded in 1968, the Symphonies between 1971-3, the Symphonic Poems [The Water Goblin, The Noon Witch, The Golden Spinning Wheel, The Wild Dove] in 1977 and the Overtures [In Nature's Realm, Carnival, Othello] in 1979-80. With the exception of the First Symphony, which is all too rarely heard, the sound on these Supraphon tapes, digitally remastered in 2012, is excellent.

The orchestra is at the top of its form under a conductor, Václac Neumann, who like Karel Šejna, 1896-1982, remains underrated in comparison with Ančerl, 1908-73, and Kubelik, 1914-1996, all in the shadow of Talich, 1883-1961. In the mid-1980s, Neumann recorded the symphonies in digital sound and, although less mannered, this earlier cycle was little seen and heard thereafter. Neumann, 1929-95, was chief conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, 1956-63, before being invited to become general music director of the Leipzig Opera and principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1964. He resigned four years later in protest at the involvement of East German troops in crushing the Prague Spring. He was chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, 1968-90, but refused to perform on Czech radio and television in 1989 in protest at government actions against actors demanding political change. He was especially well-known for his performances of Dvorak, Martinu, Janacek, Smetana and Mahler.

This was Supraphon's first cycle of the symphonies under a single conductor and, throughout, Neumann responds to Dvorak's dance rhythms in a manner that belies some critics' claim that his conducting was pedantic. If I had to select favourites amongst the symphonies it would be the Second [only the version revised in 1889 is known], Fifth, Sixth and Eighth, but the first four have great charm and are all worth greater prominence in the repertoire. Even the `New World' Symphony, with Neumann's bright, warm colours and convincing tempi, is a much more convincing `whole' than we generally hear today.

The concert overtures are grouped together, as the composer intended [a cycle `Nature, Life, Love'] and which he conducted as new pieces after arriving in New York. The sparkling Symphonic Variations was composed between the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies in 1877 but were revised ten years later. The four Symphonic Poems, each macabre in its own right, have rarely been played or recorded better.

The notes by Vlasta Reittererová, translated by Hilda Hearne, are informative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nobody does it better!!, 30 May 2014
Ashley Easter (London UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dvorak: Symphonic Works (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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Dvorak: Symphonic Works
Dvorak: Symphonic Works by Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Audio CD - 2012)
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