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Dvorak: Symphonic Poems / Harnoncourt, Royal Concertgebouw Orchrestra


Release Date: 03/27/2006 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 4602212   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Recorded in: Stereo 
Length:  1 Hours 24 Mins. 

Import   
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Originally coupled to his excellent versions of Dvorák’s Symphonies 7-9 plus the Piano Concerto, Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s equally superb performances of the four late tone poems based on folk tales are being offered by Warner at a “twofer” price. What makes these interpretations so special, aside from the marvelous playing of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is their truly striking attention to orchestral color and textural detail, highlighting the narrative thread with exceptional vividness and point. This may be most evident in The Golden Spinning Wheel, the longest and (formally speaking) most diffuse of the four. Here, Harnoncourt’s subtle pointing of color allied to a keen sense of rhythm reinforces the fact that the central Read more “body parts trading” episode is not a threefold repetition of the exact same music but is actually varied in timbre and texture. The result, despite some strikingly relaxed tempos, has no dead spots whatsoever.

Dvorák’s tone poems deserve far more respect than they have garnered over the years. Initially they were scorned because Dvorák was seen as a sort of cute, provincial imitator of Brahms, and his decision to ditch symphonic composition in favor of program music and opera late in life appeared to be both naive and a betrayal of his conservative Germanic destiny. Fortunately we are starting to know better—certainly Harnoncourt does. The tone poems are full of potent ideas that foreshadow “modern” music, especially Mahler’s. He conducted The Wild Dove, and as you can hear from that work’s ironic funeral march (the black widow of the story weeping crocodile tears as her dead husband’s procession passes), Mahler might have learned a trick or two when it came to writing his own Fifth Symphony (and, in the warbling dove motive for harp and woodwinds, the Seventh as well).

In any case, whether it be the cackling laughter of The Noon Witch or the menacing tantrums of The Water Goblin, you will be hard pressed to find a more entrancing and gripping guide to this music than Harnoncourt on these two well-engineered discs.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Golden Spinning Wheel, Op. 109 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Bohemia 
2.
Noon Witch, Op. 108/B 196 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Bohemia 
3.
Water Goblin, Op. 107/B 195 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Bohemia 
4.
Wood Dove, Op. 110/B 198 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Bohemia 

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