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Dvorák: Symphonic Poems

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Product description

Poèmes symphoniques op. 107, 108, 109 & 110 / Orchestre Philharmonique Tchèque, dir. Vaclav Neumann

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock solid Dvorak from Mr. Reliable 23 May 2007
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Among the gaggle of Czech conductors that regularly performed and recorded the music of Antonin Dvoark in the last century, few were as consistently reliable as Vaclav Neumann, the longtime conductor and music director for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Neumann recorded these versions of Dvoark's tone poems "The Water Goblin" , "The Noon Witch", "The Golden Spinning Wheel" and "The Wild Dove" with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1977. These are exciting red-blooded performances, far better than those I recently heard by Simon Rattle and Berlin Philharmonic, and equal to another set I recently heard from the Czech Philharmonic led by an even more esteemed Czech conductor, Vaclav Talich. The latter recording did not include "The Golden Spinning Wheel" and was from a 1952 concert and was recorded in passable mono.

Neumann's set is in stereo with good separation but not great depth in the sound stage. It is not as good as other recordings I've heard from this pair, especially their Mahler symphony set, also issued on Supraphon. Still, the 30-year-old recording is good enough to set forth Neumann's straightforward telling of Dvorak's version of Grimm's fairy tales with two pages of notes that give you a brief explanation of what's going on inside the music.

Neumann's CD of the four musical tales is individual because it includes all four on a single CD with no egregious cuts that I can note. Compared to both Rattle-Berlin and Harnoncourt-Concertgebouw, who take two CDs to play all four in 84 and 81 minutes playing time, respectively, Supraphon didn't have to squeeze to get Neumann's works onto one CD. Never a meanderer, Neumann gets with it in the scores and proceeds, something I always admired about his Mahler.

If you seek a recording of these four somewhat neglected tone poems from Dvoark, this recording delivers while being very economical. It does not provide 21st century sound but it tells you everything you need to know about the music.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neumann's readings are full of local color and vitality 25 Sept. 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been willing to bow my head and go along with the critical consensus that Dvorak's four late tone poems are masterworks, but Vaclav Neumann makes me feel them viscerally. Unlike Rattle, whose Berlin recording on EMI feels out of joint, or Harnoncourt, whose Teldec accounts are suave and mellow, here we trek into the haunted woods to meet the fantastic, weird, often gruesome characters of Czech fairy tales. The Czech Phil. knows how to create rustic atmopshere -- their woodwinds are as close to Pan pipes and bird calls as one can hear in a concert hall -- and Neumann's intensity guarantees that the slacker moments won't last long, while the general impetus is strong and vital. The 1977 analog recordings, typical from Suproaphon in the Soviet era, are nothing specail but certainly good enough.

In all, this CD is a delightful surprise and greatly increases my affection for all four works.
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