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Dvorak: Symphony No 8, The Noon Witch / Harnoncourt, Et Al

Release Date: 11/09/1999 
Label:  Teldec   Catalog #: 424487   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 51 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A typical Harnoncourt interpretation with a freshness of approach and attention to colour and detail that spell winner.

A more stimulating disc it would be hard to imagine. Right from the symphony's subtly textured outset (with trombones and eventually tuba adding their own distinctive colouring), it's clear that the scrupulously observant Harnoncourt has thought long and hard about every bar. Not only does he draw the most poised response from his Amsterdam orchestra, he also manages to reveal afresh both Dvorak's miraculously deft orchestral touch as well as (above all) the astonishingly individual symphonic strength of the Czech master's inspiration.

Revelations abound. In the opening Allegro con brio
Read more one can't but marvel at the bracing transparency of the tuttis (the divided fiddles help) as well as the wealth of pungent woodwind detail (in particular those exquisite, 'dove-song' flutes from 8'50''). The slow movement brings a reading of riveting contrasts and high drama, yet is joyously articulate too (the violins' dainty descending scales at 2'55'' really do make you smile). In the succeeding Allegretto grazioso textures are again wonderfully aerated, while the winsome Trio section beams with tender simplicity. Harnoncourt's finale is no less praiseworthy in its unrelenting grip and trenchant expressive scope (note, for instance, the unusually 'vocal' second bassoon early on), though perhaps not everyone will go a bundle on the comparatively lean string timbre (vibrato sparingly employed). All in all, then, as uncomplacent and profoundly thoughtful an Eighth as I've heard in many a moon.

Harnoncourt's view of The Noon Witc h is just as compelling, in every way a match for his superb account of The wild dove (12/98, coupled with the Seventh Symphony). With the RCO once more on peak form, it's a reading which, in its tingling atmosphere, sheer integrity and vivid narrative thrust, has you gasping anew at the startling power, concision and originality of Dvorak's vision. The spine-tingling writing for bass clarinet especially reminds one again of just how much Janaeek was influenced by this exhilarating score.

In sum, a coupling no true Dvorakian can afford to miss. The excellent recording emanates from a live concert in Amsterdam last December, and I now impatiently await this same partnership's forthcoming New World.

Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone [12/1999]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 8 in G major, Op. 88/B 163 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 12/1998 
Venue:  Live Concertgebouw, Amsterdam 
Length: 36 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Noon Witch, Op. 108/B 196 by Antonín Dvorák
Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 12/1998 
Venue:  Live Concertgebouw, Amsterdam 
Length: 14 Minutes 9 Secs. 

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