53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Melody flows from Dvorak's pen like water from a tap.,
This review is from: Dvorák: Symphonies Nos 1-9 (Audio CD)
In the early '60s, I developed an interest in the Dvorak symphonies beyond the evergreen "Symphony from the New World" and began acquiring a complete set on the Artia label from Czechoslovakia. These were authoritative, idiomatic performances, but the sound quality – and the lack of stereo on at least a few of them – left me wishing for more.
I had barely finished this Artia set when the first release or two of Istvan Kertész’s performances with the London Symphony, then on London LPs, hit the market. I can't really remember, at this late date, which was the first in the set except that it included a performance of the "Hussite Overture" that literally blew me away. In pretty short order, I soon had a second full set of Dvorak symphonies – the Kertész set – in splendidly up-to-date stereo sound and in performances that sounded, if anything, even more idiomatic than those Artia performances. And, as noted, a large part of the "freshness" to these Kertész performances may well be due to his relaxed approach to what had been for him new repertoire.
I don't know that there's ever been a more melodic composer than Dvorak. Some might opt for Tchaikovsky, but I would differ with them. Even Dvorak's early symphonies – long unknown to concert-goers and record-collectors – have the gift of spontaneous melody, if not the perfection of craft that his later works in the genre did. And his overtures and orchestral scherzi matched the symphonies in melodiousness: the "In Nature's Realm" Overture is downright irresistable in this respect.
This boxed set of the works, remastered for CD, is a splendid bargain. The remastered sound need take second place to any other integral set of the Dvorak symphonies (save one, which I mention briefly at the end). And of course the full magic of Kertész’s performances is there for all to enjoy without concern for "settling for second best" in any respect.
But I have a few gripes about how Decca has gone about this CD release. The set of symphonies and overtures comes in two 4-CD jewel boxes inside a slipcase. But there are only 6 CDs, the penny-pinching for which leads to awkward sidebreaks for a few of the symphonies. And the "Hussite Overture" – one of the very best in the set, and one of the very best performances of the work anywhere – is nowhere to be found.
How much better it would have been had Decca seen fit to include those other 2 CDs, with the "Hussite Overture" and with the very real expectation that the regrettable sidebreaks would not have occurred! This is reason enough for me to give this release only 4 stars. And it is a shame because it needn't have been that way!
There is every appearance that Ivan Fischer (interestingly, another Hungarian and not a Czech) is in the process of doing his own (and very new) traversal of these works, with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and on the Philips label. The little I've heard has me very excited. But Fischer does not "put Kertész in the shade." And the price is considerably higher.
Aside from the aforementioned nits about saving a disc or two and its side effects, I doubt very much that you'd be disappointed in this bargain boxed set.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jun 2011, 12:08:06 BST
Last edited by the author on 2 Jul 2011, 14:54:31 BST
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2012, 20:33:37 GMT
Othello is also missing. This is one of the greatest ever performances of that part of the Concert Overture trilogy. It is a shame that the set could not have been reissued with all those 'fillers'.
Still the best ever Bells, though, I have to say!
Posted on 19 Mar 2016, 11:43:15 GMT
Dr. Peter Sweeney says:
According to discogs.com, it was Symphony No. 3 that was coupled with the Hussite overture.
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