Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
This is Pieter Wispelwey's second recording of the Dvorák concerto for Channel Classics, and it's a very good one. Both of his versions were recorded live, but this one has a much more apt coupling (the previous release had a selection of short works for cello and keyboard). Over the 12 years since his last outing, Wispelwey's tempos have slowed, though this only matters significantly in the finale where I prefer the slightly livelier earlier version. Wispelwey in any case is such an intelligent artist with such a beautiful tone that he's always a pleasure to listen to, and here he achieves a rapt intensity in the closing epilog that's
quite special. In the first movement you'll be impressed by the honest balance between solo and orchestra, and by Wispelwey's ability to project his fortes without ever coarsening his tone. The duet with three horns in the Adagio is also gorgeous here, and Iván Fischer deserves credit for fashioning an accompaniment that brings out all the color in the score without displacing Wispelwey as the center of attention.
Indeed, Fischer's impressiveness in this music came as something of a surprise. His recordings of the Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, as well as the Slavonic Dances (both for Philips), were not particularly impressive, and it was only with his fine version of the Legends that he came into his own as a Dvorák conductor. Both he and the orchestra are in top form in the Symphonic Variations. They capture much of the music's bucolic humor, but the creepy 24th variation is remarkable, and the closing fugue is aptly exciting. In sum, this is a very distinguished Dvorák CD, very warmly and realistically recorded in all formats. My only quibble with multichannel playback concerns the fact that, as is common with many other surround-sound live performances, the added hall ambience brings with it some audience noise from the rear that is much less distracting in normal stereo. All things considered, though, this is a fine job.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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