This is a fine Testament release taken from the archives of Netherlands Radio and enshrines some magnificent Barbirolli performances in somewhat opaque sound. The Satie Gymnopedie's have a delicate and loving sound that reveal Sir John's deep and intrinsic love for the miniaturistic charm of these enchanting pieces. Britten's 'Sinfonia da Requiem' was another Barbirolli speciality and this is one of many recordings available. However it is intriguing to observe the special attention and alertness that the Concertgebouw players impart to the music that takes on an added grandeur. However it is the Dvořák Seventh that is the real highlight of the disc as it is a version to die for! Sir John handles the music with real imagery and heart-on-sleeve emotion that almost rivals Kertész and Sejna, my other preferred versions in this landmark work.
Glyndebourne has wisely preserved the best of Melly Still's literal,cluttered and ugly 2009 staging; its world-class soundtrack;.Dvorak's operatic masterpiece is in Belohlavek's bones, and he gets a thrilling and luminous account of the ravishing score from the LPO on virtually flawless form. It is the most central European of london's symphonic bands, and certainly equals, if not surpasses, the idiomatic Czech Philharmonic on rival sets conducted by Vaclav Neumann (supraphon) and Charles Mackerras (Decca). Ana Maria Martinez's Rusalka-more warm -blooded than Gabriela Benackova , less self-indulgent then Renee Fleming-gives one of the most ecstatic acounts of the famous Song to the Moon on disc.
Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, truly merits the adjective "tragic"; it was written after the deaths of two of the composer's children in succession, and his grief rolled out in great, Verdian waves. There are several strong recordings on the market, including an earlier one by conductor Jiří Bělohlávek himself, but for the combination of deep feeling, technical mastery from musicians and singers who have spent their lives getting to know the score, and soloists who not only sound beautiful but are seamlessly integrated into the flow, this Decca release may be the king of them all. To what extent was the strength of the performance motivated by Bělohlávek's likely fatal illness (he died days after the album entered the top levels of classical charts in the spring of 2017)? It's hard to say, although he also delivered top-notch performances of Dvorák's Requiem in his last days. The members of the Prague Philharmonic Choir sing their hearts out in the gigantic, shattering opening chorus, which has rarely if ever had such a mixture of the impassioned and the perfectly controlled. Sample the chorus "Virgo virginium praeclara" to hear the magically suspended quality Bělohlávek brings out of the singers in lightly accompanied passages.
Dvorak’s enchanting fairytale of the water-nymph Rusalka has been a signature role for Renée Fleming for the past 25 years. The Gramophone Classical Music Guide writes: “Renée Fleming's tender and heartwarming account of Rusalka's Song to the Moon reflects the fact that the role of the lovelorn water nymph, taken by her in a highly successful production at the MET in New York, has become one of her favourites”.
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.
Ultimate Dvorak: The Essential Masterpieces. The title alone lends itself to all kinds of problems. Who decides which of Dvorák's compositions are indeed his "essential" ones? Are the performances of these masterpieces also the ultimate? This five-disc collection by Decca is certainly an adequate introduction to some of Dvorák's most popular works: the final three symphonies, the cello concerto, and the Serenade for Strings. What's more noticeable is what's missing; despite Dvorák's rather significant contribution to chamber music, this genre is passed up in favor of lesser-known works like the Op. 44 Wind Serenade or both the Op. 46 and Op. 72 Slavonic Dances.