This disc, very well recorded in 2001, delivers two fine performances with the contrasting character of each symphony clearly differentiated. The playing of the Fischer's regular orchestra is well up to the usual standard.
The disc starts with the ninth symphony. Right away there is a clear sense of urgency at a fast basic tempo. This takes us away from the Slavonic to the New World. Although the music does not lose its lyrical sub plot, there is no doubt that this performance will be aiming for an exciting and dramatic conclusion. The first movement repeat is observed which underlines the scale of the piece. The largo gives respite and is essentially pastoral in general flavour but led with a firm hand. The scherzo is nice and tightly pointed and the finale matches the first movement by adopting fast tempo and building to an exciting conclusion.
The eighth symphony is taken at a more leisurely pace with far more emphasis on the Slavonic mood. The sensation of dance is present for much of this performance in contrast with the ninth. Fischer takes the bars following on from the first movements climax and the first climax in the last movement at the same speed as the preceding bars thus avoiding an unfortunate habit of slowing at those points to allow for a slower, more dramatic statement of the main theme by the trombones before picking up again. That effectively destroys the forward momentum, is counter productive and definitely not what Dvorak wrote. So full marks for carrying on as the composer intended! On the other hand Fischer includes some chromatic runs for the trumpets and other instruments in the last movement which I feel is not an advantage and not what is written either.
Despite that quibble this disc is clearly a quality product in terms of performance and recording. There are far too many fine performances available of this repertoire to label any one as definitive, but this is certainly one of the best and there are plenty to choose from. Barbirolli is a good historical option in both, Reiner is fine and so is Szell. In more recent times there are excellent performances by Jarvi, Chung and Ashkenazy to consider. On DVD/Bluray there is a particularly satisfying version by Abbado with a terrific Brahms violin concerto from Shaham as well as a Verdi overture. One could go on ......
I therefore suggest that it is well worth considering as an 'only' buy or as a comparative purchase for collectors. The coupling is also both generous and useful. However this is a very competitive field and this is not the only answer as can be gathered from the very short list of alternatives suggested above.
Looking for a new recording I scanned the Recorded Classical Music guide 2009 - and this was the recording that shone. Difficult to come by (it finally arrived after a months wait - and then from the USA), but worth the wait. Just so fresh and crisp. I cannot but repeat the Guides comment that the Largo from the New World was just ravishing. An unbelievably fine pair of recordings with tension and passion spread across the whole dsic to give an astounding performance.