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Dvorák: Symphonies No 5 & 7-9, Etc; Smetana


Release Date: 10/02/2007 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 00878   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Antonín DvorákBedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Mariss Jansons has a wonderful way with Dvorak. Exuberant performances, fresh and exciting, keenly attentive to intricacies and united in purpose and attack. You will not hear tighter Dvorak playing anywhere.

Mariss Jansons has a wonderful way with Dvo?ák. Each of these performances is excellent and exuberant. The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra does not have the weight of string tone that distinguishes the great European bands, but its members are skilled musicians. With Jansons at the helm they produce playing that is fresh and exciting, keenly attentive to the scores' intricacies and united in purpose and attack. You will not hear tighter Dvo?ák playing anywhere.

Jansons' performance of
Read more Dvo?ák's fifth is probably the best I have heard. He eschews the “Pastoral” epithet that was, without the composer's sanction, once used commonly in reference to this symphony, and instead of bucolic ease he injects an energised lyricism. Jansons' approach is quite different to, say, Pesek's warmer, more affectionate treatment on Virgin, but it is bracingly brilliant. The sharply etched orchestral playing and EMI's clear sonics ensure that the details of this lovely score emerge as if newly minted and remain utterly memorable.

The fillers on the first disc are every bit as well done as the symphony. The Oslo orchestra plays the daylights out of both pieces, giving the concert overture, Othello, a brooding, thrusting, dramatic performance and injecting an almost malevolent glee into the Scherzo Capriccioso.

Disc two contains excellent performances of the seventh and the eighth symphonies. The competition here is fierce, but you will not hear the development of the seventh's first movement surge with such wild energy elsewhere, and you will have to sift through a pile of discs to find such an explosively joyous rendition of the eighth's finale. The New World, which opens the final disc, also gets a vigorous reading, not as gripping as Dorati's perhaps, but offering greater delicacy in the score's more intimate moments.

In each of these performances Jansons is right on top of the score’s detail, pointing rhythms and hitting accents to maintain a surging momentum, but pulling back and phrasing expansively where necessary. Perhaps Mackerras' Classics for Pleasure recordings of the last three symphonies delight more, but Jansons' excite instead.

A fluent Vlatva closes the third disc. In a way it is a shame that Jansons did not record another Dvo?ák tone poem as a coupling. However, this disc was one of Jansons' first for EMI and the label evidently wanted something more marketable. Smetana's most famous tone poem was an obvious choice. It would be churlish to complain about this when the playing and conducting are of such high quality. The spotlit piccolo may annoy some listeners, but generally the orchestral balances are more than acceptable – the tuba cuts through beautifully – and they serve Jansons' stylish, slipstream interpretation.

There is a transparency to the sound across all three discs which lets you hear the glories of each score at all levels, though there is a slight brittleness to the sound on the final disc, which was the first to be recorded.

It is a shame that this series exists as a torso of a cycle rather than a complete set. Obviously Jansons has a feeling for Dvo?ák’s idiom. He may have left Oslo before rounding out the cycle, but he could have added to it with his subsequent orchestras in Pittsburgh, Amsterdam or Munich as he did with his roughly contemporaneous Shostakovich set. Of course, not all conductors want to record all of the Dvo?ák symphonies and many are happy with just the final three. Had this been the case with Jansons, expectations would not have been roused, but his success with the fifth suggests that he could conjure wonderful recordings of the sunny sixth and the glorious third, my favourite of the early symphonies.

In sum, this is an excellent set and, at bargain price, irresistible. Collectors will be taken with the urgency of these performances and delighted by the emergence of oft-hidden details in the scores. New initiates on the other hand, as well as gaining excellent recordings of the final three symphonies, will get a taste of Dvo?ák’s earlier symphonies and concert music that will hopefully spur them on to explore more of his oeuvre.

-- Tim Perry, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 5 in F major, Op. 76/B 54 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Bohemia 
Length: 37 Minutes 14 Secs. 
2. Othello Overture, Op. 93 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892 
Length: 13 Minutes 47 Secs. 
3. Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66/B 131 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; Bohemia 
Length: 12 Minutes 41 Secs. 
4. Symphony no 7 in D minor, Op. 70/B 141 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Bohemia 
Length: 36 Minutes 22 Secs. 
5. Symphony no 8 in G major, Op. 88/B 163 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Bohemia 
Length: 36 Minutes 1 Secs. 
6. Symphony no 9 in E minor, Op. 95/B 178 "From the New World" by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; USA 
Length: 39 Minutes 56 Secs. 
7. Má vlast: no 2, Moldau, T 111 by Bedrich Smetana
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Czech Republic 
Length: 12 Minutes 4 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 5 in F major B54 (Op. 76): I. Allegro, ma non troppo
Symphony No. 5 in F major B54 (Op. 76): II. Andante con moto
Symphony No. 5 in F major B54 (Op. 76): III. Andante con moto, quasi l'istesso tempo - Allegro scherzando
Symphony No. 5 in F major B54 (Op. 76): IV. Allegro molto
Othello B174 (Op. 93)
Scherzo capriccioso B131 (Op. 66)
Symphony No. 7 in D minor B141 (Op. 70): I. Allegro maestoso
Symphony No. 7 in D minor B141 (Op. 70): II. Poco adagio
Symphony No. 7 in D minor B141 (Op. 70): III. Scherzo (Vivace)
Symphony No. 7 in D minor B141 (Op. 70): IV. Allegro
Symphony No. 8 in G B163 (Op. 88): I. Allegro con brio
Symphony No. 8 in G B163 (Op. 88): II. Adagio
Symphony No. 8 in G B163 (Op. 88): III. Allegretto grazioso - Molto vivace
Symphony No. 8 in G B163 (Op. 88): IV. Allegro, ma non troppo

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