Harnoncourt and the COE give delightful performances of these wonderful pieces. All of Dvorak's orchestral colours are really brought out, the calm sections have such lyrical beauty and the energetic allegro sections are extremely exciting! Harnoncourt's tempi are well judged throughout and the element of dance is well captured in each of the pieces. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe's playing is very virtuosic, it is obvious that they are really expressing the music to the full. It is also obvious that Harnoncourt is especially passionate about these pieces, as shown by his precise attention to detail, especially in the phrasing, and the dynamics are handled to perfection. So all of this adds up to a very enjoyable listening experience.
The sound quality is exceptional, a great balance. The booklet notes are very interesting, they tell as about Harnoncourt's relationship with the music of Dvorak.
These pieces are very special to me as they are the pieces that got me into classical music when I was seven years old so I am very pleased to hear them performed so excellently. I can find absolutely no faults at all about this cd, highly reccommended.
This well recorded disc from 2001 reflects Harnoncourt's sympathy with the Czech musical culture. This stems from early days when he was a cellist in the Vienna Symphony orchestra, an orchestra within which about 60% of the spoken language was Czech.
Since then Harnoncourt has established a reputation for thoughtful and painstaking research into all that he undertakes to perform as a conductor. This exploration of the Slavonic Dances is typical of such an approach. As a result the original Czech dance element is emphasised as distinct from the pieces becoming a separated sequence of orchestral dances but only with loose ties to the original sources. A good reference point to register this influence is to listed to the set recorded by Sejna with the Czech PO in the late 1950's where not only are the dances very Czech orientated but also there is a distinctive Czech sound to the way the orchestral instruments are played. That makes the Sejna recording a valuable historical document and it is in good stereo sound for 1959.
Harnoncourt, in the performances on this new disc, is able to create authentic sounding Slavonic Dances even if the Czech sound of the players and their instruments is probably impossible to reproduce naturally these days with so many orchestras made up of international players. As such this becomes one of the most successful of the current discs that are available.
I would therefore suggest that this disc is well worth considering as a serious prospect for purchase when considering which of the several available should be short-listed.
Harnoncourt and Dvorak? I bought this having heard the extracts on Amazon. The Penguin Guide has several recommendations (including this one) but they seem to be content to blaze away, looking for excitement. This version allows the listener to investigate the inner parts of the writing while still keep the passion and momentum going. That's why I chose this as opposed to the others. A revelation!