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Dvorak: Symphony No.7 & Symphony No.8 CD
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Top Customer Reviews
The seventh is not my favourite Dvorak symphony. I like 4-6,8,9 better. However, this version more or less did open my eyes for its beauty. I've Dohnanyi and Sinaisky (BBC recording), and heard Fischers recent recording, but they failed to drag me into the work like Mackerras did.
Edit: I've increased my rating from 4 to 5 stars. I've heard the Macal recording on Exton also now, and after hearing and comparing 5 recordings, this one clearly stands out as a performance.
Review of the eight (4 star):
The recording of the eight I think to prefer after hearing once in the past is Kubeliks DG record, but that's based on memory. This performance was very good, but not leaving me completely satisfied. For me it sounds as if the orchestra's sound is not completely suited to the music. Strange after feeling that convinced of the seventh (but with a long period between listening sessions).
Shortly hereafter I heard Dohnanyi/Cleveland. I preferred that one to Mackerras.
Sound rating (both symphonies): very good live recording, without being outstanding.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
conducted by Mackerras, this was a short term experiment for him, not a new orthodoxy such as that adopted by Claudio Abbado
in his later years. This Dvorak is akin to CM's Janacek opera cycle, for Czecheslovakia and its composers amounted to a second home, including apprenticeship with Vaclav Talich and long experience with Czech music. I do not speak the language, but
these Dvorak performances remind me of those by Karel Ancerl and Karel Sejna with idiomatic Czech accents and phrasing. Fortunately,Mackerras brings other attributes which do not include the rushed tempi with the Prague CO in some of their Mozart
symphonies on Telarc. #7 retains its D minor fury but also dramatizes gentler passages in loving detail without melting.
This is true also of the more lyrical G Major #8. Both are impassioned -perhaps the live venue helped, for one
feels the sense of occasion on these recordings. This is a packed field, but this cd is well worth investigating.
Peers: Kubelik/BRSO/DG, Szell/Cleveland/Sony (both) and #8 only/RCOA/Decca); Dohnanyi/Cleveland/ Decca; Talich/CPO/Supraphon;
Sawallisch/Philadelphia/EMI (both); Munch/BSO/RCA-#8 only; Ancerl/Supraphon-#8; Haitink/RCOA/Philips-Decca and Sejna/CPO/Supraphon-#7 only
To be candid, I've never heard anything remotely approaching greatness in the reliable Mackerras, and I resent that his run-of-the-mill Janacek opera recordings for Decca have become the "standard of excellence," certainly not a gold standard. Grumbling aside, he's in good form here, primarily because the orchestra's contribution exhibits such finesse and glowing tone. The fast movements in both symphonies could use more zest, but Mackrras feels personal here, a quality I rarely find from him, so the slow movements are touching. There's sufficient lilt in the Scherzos, with careful emphasis on the off-beats. The naturalness of these readings is appealing, and although there are many great Dvork Sevenths and Eighths with more drama, few are this softly beguiling, in the style of late Bruno Walter.