3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the very best in a hotly competitive market,
This review is from: Dvorak : Symphony No.9 & The Water Goblin (Audio CD)
This disc, very well recorded in 1999, enters a hotly competitive market where any new entry will have to be very special indeed to even get a mention. This disc undoubtedly succeeds on every level.
The recording itself is very good with good internal balances within a natural acoustic. Nothing is unduly highlighted and the stage depth is convincing. The performance of the symphony includes the important first movement repeat so the balance of the symphony is established correctly.
Harnoncourt manages to achieve a number of frequently contradictory results. The performance has clearly been carefully thought through and in a way that is typical of Harnoncourt. Every detail is made to have impact. This level of preparation could lead to a perfect but dull performance. Not so here. This performance has all the excitement and thrill of a top quality and vibrant 'live' performance and thus achieves the best of both worlds - considered but spontaneous performance.
The Water Goblin is one of the dark tales that Dvorak, towards the end of his career, set in his series of tone poems. These are founded on Czech folk tales, all of which contain stories centred around gruesome events. In this tale the Water Goblin abducts a girl and takes her to the watery depths to be his wife. The girl eventually returns to her mother but this story, typically, does not have a happy ending. To find out more you will need to buy a recording! These tales presumably appealed to Dvorak as they gave him so many opportunities to explore imaginative orchestral effects which he clearly relished. Harnoncourt makes the most of them too.
I would suggest that this disc deserves to be considered as a clear front runner and can be compared with the very best of either the symphony or the Water Goblin. There can never be a 'best buy' in such a strong field but this is one of the best.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)
I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)
I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Thank you (UK review)
I'd also add to this. When you in particular review a particular CD, I pay pretty close attention. I would say the characteristics of your reviews I value the most are the detail and general sense of balance and fairness that comes across. That's a great help. Thanks for taking the time on your reviews. (US review)