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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 24 July 2014
These very well-filled CDs - several are over 80 minutes in playing time - contain all the symphonies, presented in order. None is broken over two CDs. The first three CDs contain one symphony each, the remaining three two each. The first three CDs are completed by the three concertos with orchestra, in this case presented in reverse order.

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra has improved immensely since its low point in the 1990s and, tho the strings have not yet attained the power and mastery of the 1950s and 1960s, the playing is wonderful throughout, with lovely woodwind - maybe the oboe could be singled out. The performances are conducted in the broad style that Jiri Belohlavek has adopted recently, recalling Talich rather than Ancerl or Neumann - it is interesting comparing them with the performances he conducted for Chandos and Supraphon on Symphonies 5-9 in the 1990s. Since then the orchestra has recorded an almost complete cycle with Zdenek Macal, omitting only the first symphony, and the last three symphonies with Vladimir Ashkenazy. Those were all excellent performances but these, as well as having the advantage of completion and presentation in one neat box, have the edge in fluency and persuasiveness. The early symphonies are treated here without condescension, with the same belief as the later works. This would be the obvious set to buy if you want a modern set, and the best ever by this orchestra under one conductor. As an achievement it can be put alongside Supraphon's historic early LP set with the four leading conductors and two leading Prague orchestras of the 1950s.

The concertos are here performed by international non-Czech soloists. They all show conviction, virtuosity and fair appreciation of the works, and the orchestra plays as well as in the symphonies, following each soloist faithfully. The outstanding item is the Violin Concerto, with German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann - he must love the work as he has recorded it twice before, the first time as a teenager. The Americans Alisa Weilerstein and Garrick Ohlsson give imposing performances of the Cello and Piano Concertos - perhaps a bit too imposing, and in the case of the Cello work, too luscious at a few moments. A different recording enginner is credited for the cello concerto, and perhaps that is why the balance between soloist and orchestra is less well contrived than in the other two works - the rich-toned cello is a bit too prominent and oppressive, and the interchanges with wind soloists which occur throughout the work go for a bit less than they might have done with a better balance. But it is for the wonderful performances of the wonderful symphonies that people should hear this box!
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on 6 March 2016
Having heard the Czech Philharmonic and Jiri Belohlavek live in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh a few times I was keen to buy this box set of all of Dvorak's Symphonies and Concertos recorded by EMI in 2012/13.

Interestingly one reviewer mentioned he has the Complete Symphonies of Dvorak by Neeme Jarvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra recorded by Chandos in the late 1980's. He said he prefers that set to the Czech Philharmonic set but in my opinion both sets have pluses and minuses.

I would say that the Jarvi/RSNO set brings Dvorak's earlier Symphonies alive, which isn't easy to do because he hadn't really developed his own Slavonic style until the 5th Symphony onwards. But it is in his later Symphonies where Belohlavek and the Czech Philharmonic really shine and their playing especially in the 5th, 7th and 9th Symphonies are wonderful to listen to.

I would also have to say that the real strength of the Czech Orchestra apart from its glorious strings has to be its beautiful woodwind section. The flute, clarinet and oboe solos glow throughout these Symphonies and the brass is very controlled and not over blowing unlike on the Jarvi recordings.

As for the Concertos it is no surprise that the Cello Concerto stands out with Alisa Weilerstein's stunning and electrifying tone a real delight to listen to. In fact her performance of it rather puts my Yo-Yo Ma/New York Philharmonic recording of 1995 in the shade.

So a really rewarding Dvorak box set by Belohlavek and his Czech Philharmonic with true Slavonic playing.
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on 9 December 2014
The best Dvorak-set since the Supraphon recordings of the 1960'is and 70'ies (Neumann and Ancerl). Better than Kubelik, though his No 7 still is my favorite
Exciting, the right slavonic feeling and besides the symphonies generous fillings - the concertos - all in excellent interpretations. I can accept that the cello concerto No 1 is missing, as it would have demanded another CD. Let's hope that the Decca producers will issue a box with the "missing" concerto and the symphonic poems, slavonic Rhapsodies and Overtures, legends and Slavonic dances (orchestral versions) and the Romance op.11 as well?
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on 22 August 2014
Very fine recording of brisk, intelligent interpretations. As a rule I lean more towards chamber music (especially Dvorak's String Quartets and various Quintets) but these may make a convert of me. The concertos all feature strong solo performances, especially the cello concerto. Dvorak's piano concerto is not highly esteeemed in the canon but this is an enjoyable performance of a lesser work.
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on 3 October 2014
I was lucky enough to see the Czech Phil under Jiri Behlolavek at a Proms concert in the Albert Hall this summer. On that occasion they performed Dvorak's Cello Concerto amongst other works. From my seat in a box at the side it was hard at times to hear the cello but everything is properly balanced in the above recording. In fact the sound is really state-of-the-art and the performances are excellent. It was good to be able to listen to the piano concerto which is rarely performed in the concert hall. I cannot recommend this set too highly.
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on 13 February 2016
I've been enjoying the music of Dvorak for many years, but these are just lovely, and include Alisa's performance of the Cello Concerto as well, her name is familiar from Classic FM, but wanted to hear her play a complete work. The Dvorak is one of the biggest for the cello and she does a marvellous job. Harold. St Albans
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on 30 September 2014
Since I have confidence in this conductor and this orchestra and in the reviews published on Amazon and in the music journals, I bought this set. Preliminary soundings are promising. But - and it is a huge 'but' - the accompanying booklet is pathetically inadequate. This matters because classical music generally is in huge trouble and because cds as a medium are in danger of obsolence - extremely cheap as they now are. It is quite disgraceful and almost suicidally stupid that a label such as Decca produces such low-grade doumentation. Serious classical listeners want serious information about the works performed. One of the few existing labels to understand this is Naxos. Decca, here, is an absolute disgrace.
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on 9 June 2015
I really don't understand all the love for this basically decent but unexceptional set. There are so many complete cycles to choose from, and competition is fierce. There is much, much better to be had elsewhere. Rowicki and Suitner among several others exude the sort of character and colour that this set so patently lacks. I sold mine via Amazon marketplace. A big disappointment.
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on 22 August 2015
I purchased this set because for one, I read the positive reviews here. Two, I fancied a change from my trusty Jarvi set with the SNO. What a mistake. Where is the passion? Where is the oomph? I'll stick with the SNO thanks very much.
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