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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb cycle of this cycle of joyous symphonies., 18 July 2014
By 
Robert Roy (Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
First, a word of warning. 4 out of five of these discs play for over 80 minutes with the longest being nearly 84! Whilst this is fine on modern equipment there's the chance that older CD players may reject them.

I have to say that I've had a fascinating couple of weeks re-acquainting myself with these wonderful works and I'm sure that this set will do what the Kertesz/LSO recordings did for them in the 60's. As well as the ever popular seventh, eighth and ninth symphonies, the earlier works are well worth hearing especially in performances as good as these.

Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic play these works like no other musicians can. (The Czech Phil. Library still have the orchestral parts that were used for Dvorak!) Rhythms are beautifully pointed, the melodic phrasing is so affectionate and the sheer virtuosity of the players is a thing to behold.

The first three symphonies are probably never going to be heard in concert that often and there is no doubt that they do sprawl a bit showing that Dvorak was finding his feet when it came to writing symphonies. They contain lovely melodies and ideas and are well worth hearing so, if you don't know these pieces, these are wonderful introductions.

The 'in between' works are well served here and if the spirit of Wagner and Brahms linger then it goes to show that a Dvorak was taking inspiration from the masters. The fourth symphony has always been a favourite of mine and no performance I've heard on record has reached the heights of this one.

By the time Dvorak wrote his last three symphonies he had ditched the German symphonic model and had found his own feet and voice and these works need no advocacy from me! Again, these are terrific performances and crown this outstanding cycle.

As a bonus, the three concerti are added. They are all played with superb artistry by the soloists although I have to say that Alicia Weilerstein's performance is simply, IMHO, the best recording of this work EVER and is my recording of the year so far!

Recommended with all enthusiasm.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful box of wonderful symphonies, 24 July 2014
This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
These very well-filled CDs - several are over 80 minutes in playing time - contain all the symphonies, presented in order. None is broken over two CDs. The first three CDs contain one symphony each, the remaining three two each. The first three CDs are completed by the three concertos with orchestra, in this case presented in reverse order.

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra has improved immensely since its low point in the 1990s and, tho the strings have not yet attained the power and mastery of the 1950s and 1960s, the playing is wonderful throughout, with lovely woodwind - maybe the oboe could be singled out. The performances are conducted in the broad style that Jiri Belohlavek has adopted recently, recalling Talich rather than Ancerl or Neumann - it is interesting comparing them with the performances he conducted for Chandos and Supraphon on Symphonies 5-9 in the 1990s. Since then the orchestra has recorded an almost complete cycle with Zdenek Macal, omitting only the first symphony, and the last three symphonies with Vladimir Ashkenazy. Those were all excellent performances but these, as well as having the advantage of completion and presentation in one neat box, have the edge in fluency and persuasiveness. The early symphonies are treated here without condescension, with the same belief as the later works. This would be the obvious set to buy if you want a modern set, and the best ever by this orchestra under one conductor. As an achievement it can be put alongside Supraphon's historic early LP set with the four leading conductors and two leading Prague orchestras of the 1950s.

The concertos are here performed by international non-Czech soloists. They all show conviction, virtuosity and fair appreciation of the works, and the orchestra plays as well as in the symphonies, following each soloist faithfully. The outstanding item is the Violin Concerto, with German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann - he must love the work as he has recorded it twice before, the first time as a teenager. The Americans Alisa Weilerstein and Garrick Ohlsson give imposing performances of the Cello and Piano Concertos - perhaps a bit too imposing, and in the case of the Cello work, too luscious at a few moments. A different recording enginner is credited for the cello concerto, and perhaps that is why the balance between soloist and orchestra is less well contrived than in the other two works - the rich-toned cello is a bit too prominent and oppressive, and the interchanges with wind soloists which occur throughout the work go for a bit less than they might have done with a better balance. But it is for the wonderful performances of the wonderful symphonies that people should hear this box!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very fine recording of brisk, 22 Aug. 2014
By 
John Alsop (Erskineville, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
Very fine recording of brisk, intelligent interpretations. As a rule I lean more towards chamber music (especially Dvorak's String Quartets and various Quintets) but these may make a convert of me. The concertos all feature strong solo performances, especially the cello concerto. Dvorak's piano concerto is not highly esteeemed in the canon but this is an enjoyable performance of a lesser work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Idiomatic Dvorak box, 9 Dec. 2014
By 
O. Blix "Olof Blix" (Jönköping, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
The best Dvorak-set since the Supraphon recordings of the 1960'is and 70'ies (Neumann and Ancerl). Better than Kubelik, though his No 7 still is my favorite
Exciting, the right slavonic feeling and besides the symphonies generous fillings - the concertos - all in excellent interpretations. I can accept that the cello concerto No 1 is missing, as it would have demanded another CD. Let's hope that the Decca producers will issue a box with the "missing" concerto and the symphonic poems, slavonic Rhapsodies and Overtures, legends and Slavonic dances (orchestral versions) and the Romance op.11 as well?
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In fact the sound is really state-of-the-art and the performances are excellent. It was good to be able to listen ..., 3 Oct. 2014
By 
Stanley Gray "frenlect" (Nantwich Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
I was lucky enough to see the Czech Phil under Jiri Behlolavek at a Proms concert in the Albert Hall this summer. On that occasion they performed Dvorak's Cello Concerto amongst other works. From my seat in a box at the side it was hard at times to hear the cello but everything is properly balanced in the above recording. In fact the sound is really state-of-the-art and the performances are excellent. It was good to be able to listen to the piano concerto which is rarely performed in the concert hall. I cannot recommend this set too highly.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disgraceful Decca documentation, 30 Sept. 2014
By 
John L. Moles (Durham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
Since I have confidence in this conductor and this orchestra and in the reviews published on Amazon and in the music journals, I bought this set. Preliminary soundings are promising. But - and it is a huge 'but' - the accompanying booklet is pathetically inadequate. This matters because classical music generally is in huge trouble and because cds as a medium are in danger of obsolence - extremely cheap as they now are. It is quite disgraceful and almost suicidally stupid that a label such as Decca produces such low-grade doumentation. Serious classical listeners want serious information about the works performed. One of the few existing labels to understand this is Naxos. Decca, here, is an absolute disgrace.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
Bought as a present, but the recipients are enjoying the music
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
it was a gift for a friend, haven't had any complaints !
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos (Audio CD)
no comments
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Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos
Dvorák: Complete Symphonies & Concertos by Czech Philharmonic (Audio CD - 2014)
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