Top positive review
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Superb cycle of this cycle of joyous symphonies.
on 18 July 2014
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.