This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
One of Raymond Leppard's first records outside his regular Baroque stamping-ground was of the Dvorak Legends, a delightful disc, now alas deleted. Equally his radio performances with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra have regularly confirmed what a natural and warm-hearted Dvorak interpreter he is. Here again he directs a beautifully paced and crisply pointed reading of one of Dvorak's most appealing works, coupling it with an equally strong and enjoyable account of the Tchaikovsky Serenade for strings in what has now become a conventional coupling. There are other strong contenders besides the Marriner/Argo version listed—Barenboim (HMV ASD3036, 11/74) and Asencio (Pye Ensayo NEL2002, 1/74) among them—but with superb Philips recording,
wide-ranging and refined, Leppard has an edge over them, so that it is the contrast with Mariner, sharply defined, which is the key one.
Marriner in both works presents performances which are a degree more refined in the playing with a unanimity in expressive phrasing which often reminds me of Karajan. As with Karajan such perfection in beauty can sound almost self-conscious, and that is certainly so at the start of the Dvorak. There Leppard, with playing that is scarcely less polished, has an agreeably more beefy style, faster and easier, There and in many other places it has struck me that Leppard leans towards an accelerando expressiveness, his natural flexibility urging the music on in rubato, where Marriner, equally expressive, often opts for a lingering manner.
In Tchaikovsky on balance it seems to me that Marriner's extra refinement gives so many moments of pure magic (the reprise with descant for example in the slow movement) that his version has to be preferred, but in the Dvorak the balance is marginally the other way, with the toughness behind Leppard's reading presenting a stronger if marginally less polished result. In both Serenades Leppard's handling of the waltz movements is a delight, with a hint of Viennese rubato giving warmth as a counterattraction to Marriner's refinement. But with two such delectable works, it is doubtful whether any purchaser could be disappointed with either record.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [3/1977, reviewing the original LP release]
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