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Dvorak: Slavonic Dances / Ivan Fischer, Budapest Festival [Blu-ray Audio]

Release Date: 02/11/2014 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001993446   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Blu-ray Audio:  $17.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an audio-only (i.e., with no video content) Blu-ray disc playable only on Blu-ray players.

It is also available on standard CD.

DVORÁK Slavonic Dances, opp. 46 and 72 Iván Fischer, cond; Budapest Festival O DECCA 002894785007 (Blu-ray audio: 69:16)

This was originally a Philips recording that then reappeared on the more audiophile-oriented Channel Classics label, Read more presumably because Channel was in the process of releasing a series of Dvorák CDs with the Budapest Festival Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer. Now it appears on a Decca Blu-ray audio disc. Philips is not particularly known for its sound, and the original was somewhat hazy and soft-edged, especially for this music that requires a little more snap and bite. There is no sonic difference on the Channel release. Blu-ray audio provides a subtle sharpening of instrumental edges that partially relieves the haziness and enhances the impact of Fischer’s interpretations. There also may be a little more hall sound. The new release now sounds very good, but I would not call it an audiophile recording. Ultimately, Philips sounds like Philips, no matter what label you put on it.

The subtle sonic improvement enables this Blu-ray audio version to credibly compete with the formidable performances provided by George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra on Sony and Antal Doráti conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra on Mercury. Szell and Doráti are the interpretive opposites of the more relaxed Fischer. They are both extremely dynamic to the point where some critics complain that they overdrive the music. I prefer Doráti’s rhythmic intensity that does not mask his affinity for the natural lilt inherent in Dvorák’s music. On the other hand, the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra frequently sounds harsh with Mercury’s aggressive sound (this is not one of the best Mercurys), and cannot realistically compete with the Cleveland Orchestra. Szell’s sound is also harsh at times and the recording is aggressively multimiked.

The performances are so different that most collectors should have an easy choice based on their interpretive preferences. This Blu-ray audio disc has the best sound of the three.

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

Slavonic Dances (8) for Orchestra, Op. 46/B 83 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 1999 
Venue:  Italian Institute, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 34 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Slavonic Dances (8) for Orchestra, Op. 72/B 147 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Iván Fischer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886-1887; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 1999 
Venue:  Italian Institute, Budapest, Hungary 
Length: 34 Minutes 49 Secs. 

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