Notes and Editorial Reviews
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These alert and intelligent readings [conducted by Rowicki]...comparing them once more with Kertesz I have been much impressed with their freshness…I found myself much more sympathetic this time with Rowicki's distinctive view of slightly understating the expressiveness of slow movements…and often in fast movements of adding a touch of fierceness by pressing the rhythms a little more literally, allowing a degree less lilt.
Rowicki had the misfortune, when his cycle of the Dvorãk was appearing in separate installments some years ago, as the dates indicate—to be following hard on the heels of Kertesz, recording the same works with
the same orchestra. Generally at the time I found the Kertesz readings (Decca D6D7, 9/76) the more sympathetic, and on balance I would stick to that view, but sampling these alert and intelligent readings again and comparing them once more with Kertesz I have been much impressed with their freshness. I deliberately did not look back at my earlier reviews, and I found myself much more sympathetic this time with Rowicki's distinctive view of slightly understating the expressiveness of slow movements (usually at a relatively fast tempo) and often in fast movements of adding a touch of fierceness by pressing the rhythms a little more literally, allowing a degree less lilt. Both those qualities combine with recording which in this excellent transfer is very refined for its period with cleaner inner texture than the bright Decca sound provides. An aptly pastoral quality is given to the performances. The opening of No, 6 for example with the accompanying syncopations very clear in their rhythmic support is more individual and fresh than in Kertesz's reading, less than usual like a Czech version of the Brahms Second Symphony. The glorious second theme of the Third Symphony, which Kertesz treats con amore, may sound with Rowicki rather too light and cool, but in context its gently rustic tone is just as convincing as Kertesz's romantic warmth. The slow movement of No. 5, which, when the Rowicki version first appeared I found far too cool and inexpressive, now seems to me an attractive alternative, the more tender in its lyricism for being understated. Conversely Kubelik, habitually more extreme in his use of an espressivo style comes to sound a little indulgent, gilding the lily, though his set too (DO 2720 066, I0/73—nla) provided a valuable alternative with beautiful warm playing from the Berlin Philharmonic.
For Rowicki the London Symphony Orchestra plays if anything with even more crisp ensemble than for Kertesz, though that impression in part may reflect the extra refinement of texture in the recording. The violins in their upper register for example have more bloom here, and the brass is gloriously recorded, the horns in particular, clear and rich without unnatural forwardness. The sound is excellent even on the longest sides, and one of them—containing the first three movements of No. 6—lasts over 36 minutes. Rowicki's relatively fast tempi allow that division of movements, and the benefit is that though all nine symphonies are squeezed on to seven discs (as the Kertesz versions are) there is still room for a makeweight in the I-Iusitskâ Overture. As on the Kertesz set two symphonies have to be spread between individual discs. Here it is Nos. 5 and 8, where with Kertesz it was Nos. 4 and 8. The other currently available set of all nine symphonies, Neumann on Supraphon (110 1621-8, 10/75), adds to its other disappointments in the actual performances the obvious disadvantage that on eight records no fewer than four of the symphonies are spread between different records. It has taken Philips a very long time to get round to issuing Rowicki's alert and refreshing set in direct competition with the still excellent Kertesz, but with more refined sound and a makeweight it makes a very attractive alternative. The Dutch pressings are first rate.
Gramophone, (April, 1981) (This review of the original edition pertains to both volumes 1 and 2.)
Works on This Recording
Hussite Overture, Op. 67/B 132 by Antonín Dvorák
London Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1883; Bohemia
My Home Overture, Op. 62/B 125a by Antonín Dvorák
London Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1882; Bohemia
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