Otto Klemperer was born on 14th May 1885 in Breslau, Silesia (now Wroclaw, Poland) and died on 6th July 1973 in Zurich and hence next year we mark 40 years since his passing. Although disfigured by a stroke suffered whilst a brain tumour was being removed he became a world-renowned conductor whose recordings became and remain touchstones for the EMI catalogue.
Philippe Herreweghe, principal conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, has devoted himself for over ten years to fresh and invigorating readings of the (pre-) Romantic repertoire. Together with the Collegium Vocale, founded in 1970 by Philippe Herreweghe himself, and superb soloists they perform Dvořák’s Requiem.
No one could pretend that Dvorak's solo piano music stands up either to his best orchestral and chamber scores or to the keyboard music of his more piano-wise contemporaries, from Gottschalk through Brahms to Fauré. But while it's rarely deep or especially idiomatic in its handling of the instrument, much of it has a melodic abundance and a rhythmic vitality that make it more engaging than its overall neglect would lead you to believe. Especially given the absence of the Kvapil cycle from the current catalog, therefore, the inauguration of Inna Poroshina's new series is most welcome.
The liner notes of this collection of the complete Dvorák symphonies are at best peculiar and at worst off putting. Rather than focusing on the symphonies themselves, their historical significance, or Dvorák's compositional evolution, they instead concentrate on lauding the conductor, the fame of the orchestra, and the number of albums sold when these recordings were first released. All of this may be more tolerable if the recordings themselves lived up to the hype. But, sadly, they do not. While the performances are certainly adequate, they fail to bring anything new or special to the listener. The earlier symphonies, which are not Dvorák's strongest from a compositional standpoint, are not infused with any extra energy or vitality to make them more captivating to the listener. Sound quality throughout the cycle is often dull; lower instruments such as the basses and tympani sound as if they are playing from under a pillow. Even the more popular latter symphonies (Seven, Eight, and Nine) are simply adequate. The brass playing, particularly in the Eighth Symphony, is frequently not together and the sound quality is unattractive. If listeners are in the market for a complete set of these symphonies, they would do well to consider the set made by the London Symphony Orchestra under Istvan Kertesz instead.
"No. 8" is a popular song that is in line with "New World", but the performance of Abad here is just "Abado flow" music. It is a subjective strong performance whether there is a live change, such as a change in strength or freedom of expression, yet it is also a splendid place where the naturalness of the song is not lost.
Mysliveček, il divino Boemo (the title seems to have been a fictional exaggeration) was particularly associated with opera. But his instrumental works outnumber the operatic by some margin and some of his best-known works, to us at least, are his concertos. The years of his greatest triumphs were between about 1767 and 1777, a decade that saw foreign successes, meetings with Mozart and considerable operatic esteem. His Six Symphonies of 1772 are indebted to the Italianate three-movement form, which they have absorbed with considerable vivacity, and they show individual touches – modulations, wind solos and the like – that give them an individual stamp.