Dvorak Symphonies

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:14 am

Jiri Belohlavek has had a very successful career with the BBC and other orchestras. Last year, he released a set of Dvorak's symphonies and concertos that looks very fine. My favorite set of Dvorak's Symphonies up to now has been Neumann's 70's analog set with the Czech Philharmonic, with Kertesz a close second. Has anyone here acquired the set pictured below: I'm truly tempted, and just need a little nudge to grab this.....

Image

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by John F » Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:49 pm

Any reason to expect this set to be special? To my ears, Belohlavek is a capable conductor but not much more. There are so many outstanding recordings of the great Dvorak symphonies that the bar is very high. And for the not-so-great Dvorak symphonies, one version has been enough for me.
John Francis

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18377
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by Lance » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:26 pm

Hmm ... Like you, I favour Neumann and Kertesz (in that order), and anything by Dvorak recorded by Talich/Czech PO. Already having too many recordings of the individual symphonies (especially Nos. 4-9), I would probably bypass this issue, though I certainly appreciate Belohlavek's art. What does interest me, however, is the concerto collaborations, but even then, already too many performances of those works as well. I've gotten to the point of being highly selective of, particularly, orchestral works. Vocal, instrumental, choral, etc., an entirely different matter. This Decca set is probably priced correctly, I suspect, so, for what it's worth, buy yourself an early birthday present! :D

On another note, some time back, Supraphon issued all of Vaclav Talich's recordings at mid-price. The man was magical with Dvorak and just about everyone else, despite the mono sound (which is pretty good, after all). I'm not sure of the availability of the Talich discs nowadays, but Talich has a cult following for a very good reason: incredible music-making.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by John F » Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:21 am

Unfortunately, Vaclav Talich recorded only the symphonies now numbered 6 through 9. (In his time there were five numbered Dvorak symphonies, the early ones being known but not performed.) But every one of them is my preferred version of the music.
John Francis

maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Sun Sep 13, 2015 11:25 am

Hmmmm------

Thanks, gentlemen. I'm still not getting that nudge...... :)

Has anyone out there actually heard the set? The reviews on Amazon are quite favorable.

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by stenka razin » Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:53 pm

I have this set and find it to be a very good overall version of the Dvorak Symphonies. It is a convenient way to acquire this repertoire from performers who have it in their blood: juicily idiomatic wind playing, a string sound that sparkles like the Vltava itself. Highly recommended and you get the three Concertos included. 8)

Regards,
Mel 8)
Image

THEHORN
Posts: 2619
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:57 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by THEHORN » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:57 pm

David Hurwitz at classicstoday.com gave it a dismissive Meh review , which means it's probably terrific . I definitely want to hear it .

jserraglio
Posts: 5970
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by jserraglio » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:54 am

I liked the Dvorak CC separate issue (vol 1 of the cycle) with Alisa Weilerstein, cond. Belohlavek. That one disc, at least, was special. Haven't heard any of the others yet.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18377
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by Lance » Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:27 pm

So Brian, what happened. Did you get it? If so, give us your thoughts in comparison to the other renditions you have.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Sun Oct 04, 2015 12:27 pm

It's on its way: will report when I get a chance to listen...... :D

maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:45 pm

Am currently listening to Symphonies IV & V. Have listened to roughly all of the early works and the concerti, and I must admit this is a standout set. My one disappointment is the piano concerto, which Garrick Ohlsson plays like Chopin: very bland. I prefer a muscular approach, i.e. Firkusny, but his is a scrappy orchestra (Simogyi). Still not found my ideal version of this work.

Oh, well, the Violin Concerto is the standout: sublime. Josef Suk (Dvorak's grandson) recorded an absolutely perfect version some decades ago, and Zimmermann manages to equal this in expressivity and tone quality, just magnificent. So is Weilerstein in the Cello Concerto: she is the latest "thing," having recorded the Elgar Concerto w/Barenboim (also a magnificent reading), and she plays like a queen in the difficult Dvorak, with able accompaniment by Belohlavek.

I'm also pleased as punch with Belohlavek's interpretation of the early symphonies (1-5). They are not major works, but are treated with the respect they deserve, and the orchestra is captured at a sonic peak by the excellent engineers. I've enjoyed having a more open, transparent sound than the excellent Neumann set from the 1970's.

Will report on the later symphonies when I get there.......
Last edited by maestrob on Sun Oct 18, 2015 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

RebLem
Posts: 9117
Joined: Tue May 17, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA 87112, 2 blocks west of the Breaking Bad carwash.
Contact:

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by RebLem » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:03 pm

I don't have the Neumann or the Belo sets, but my favorite complete set is the one by Kubelik, by far. Other good recordings are the Szell/Cleveland 7,8, and 9 on Sony, anything by Ancerl and Talich, and there's a 6th by Karel Sejna that's really good. My number one favorite 9th, though, is one with the LPO conducted by Zdenek Macal. The Giulini/Chicago 9th on DGG is excellent as well.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18377
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by Lance » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:58 pm

I guess I'm not quite ready for another complete set of Dvorak's symphonies. While I have the Kubelik set on DGG, the Kertesz set on Decca, and the Neuman set on Supraphon plus many individual recordings of each of the symphonies on other labels, I will stay with what I have. On the other hand, any Dvorak piece with Talich conducting would always get first place above anyone, despite mono-only sound; Talich communicated the essence of Dvorak's music, IMHO, better than just about anyone else.

Regarding the piano concerto, you may not be aware that Firkusny recorded the work in 1944 with Kubelik conducting [Andromeda 9032, 3 CDs; Orfeo 726.143]]. He also recorded one with Somogyi conducting [Bianco e Nero 2436], Czech PO/Kubelik [Supraphon 4080], Neumann/Czech PO [Supraphon 60781]. The one with Sviatoslav Richter on EMI never fully convinced me. If any one single pianist fitted this music best, it is undoubtedly Firkusny.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Sun Oct 18, 2015 12:22 pm

Lance:

It's the Somogyi version of Firkusny's Dvorak Piano Concerto (originally issued by MHS on LP) that I have listed as a favorite before because of his pianism: I'm looking forward to finding his versions with Kubelik. Like you, Richter's ubiquitous version with Kleiber never convinced me. Thanks for the tip off: somehow I missed those :oops:

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 18377
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by Lance » Sun Oct 18, 2015 3:01 pm

It's my distinct pleasure. I have missed some things along the way as well. However, the Dvorak piano concerto is a favourite of mine ... I well remember being in the Czech Republic and seeing his room with his Bösendorfer grand that his fingers played! The man remains a top-level composer for me.
maestrob wrote:Lance:

It's the Somogyi version of Firkusny's Dvorak Piano Concerto (originally issued by MHS on LP) that I have listed as a favorite before because of his pianism: I'm looking forward to finding his versions with Kubelik. Like you, Richter's ubiquitous version with Kleiber never convinced me. Thanks for the tip off: somehow I missed those :oops:
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by josé echenique » Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:19 am

maestrob wrote:Am currently listening to Symphonies IV & V. Have listened to roughly all of the early works and the concerti, and I must admit this is a standout set. My one disappointment is the piano concerto, which Garrick Ohlsson plays like Chopin: very bland. I prefer a muscular approach, i.e. Firkusny, but his is a scrappy orchestra (Simogyi). Still not found my ideal version of this work.

Oh, well, the Violin Concerto is the standout: sublime. Josef Suk (Dvorak's grandson) recorded an absolutely perfect version some decades ago, and Zimmermann manages to equal this in expressivity and tone quality, just magnificent. So is Weilerstein in the Cello Concerto: she is the latest "thing," having recorded the Elgar Concerto w/Barenboim (also a magnificent reading), and she plays like a queen in the difficult Dvorak, with able accompaniment by Belohlavek.

I'm also pleased as punch with Belohlavek's interpretation of the early symphonies (1-5). They are not major works, but are treated with the respect they deserve, and the orchestra is captured at a sonic peak by the excellent engineers. I've enjoyed having a more open, transparent sound than the excellent Neumann set from the 1970's.

Will report on the later symphonies when I get there.......

This is easily my preferred version:


Image

maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:49 am

Thanks Pepe. I've looked at that, but haven't sprung for it.

Bought the two Firkusny/Kubelik versions, including the one recorded by the Germans when they invaded Czechoslovakia. Should be interesting: will report.

As for Belehlovak's Symphonies, have by now listened to VII & VIII, and found VII to be a surprise! Belehlovak's interpretations up to now have been straightforward, with a minimum of rubato, but in VII he suddenly finds all sorts of opportunities for delays and slowdowns. What surprised me is how well this worked for this symphony: I've never heard VII done so freely, preferring Szell's straight approach (or for that matter Neumann's two versions), but I suppose I'm becoming more tolerant in my dotage, because I liked the results. YMMV. It's not to my taste, but valid it certainly is.

The VIII, by contrast, was eminently tasteful, played in a straightforward manner with beautiful sound.

I'll get around to IX soon: that's a tough one, as it's up against Szell, Kertesz, Reiner and Neumann.

maestrob
Posts: 6724
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Dvorak Symphonies

Post by maestrob » Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:33 am

Belohlavek has produced, IMHO, a rather blah IX: all the notes are there of course, and there's a focus on highlighting the beauty of the orchestra. My objection is that there's not a lot of energy: musical tension tends to lag in the slower sections. Reiner and Szell never lose focus: this version does. IF I were working on a star system, I'd give Belehlovak only 3, even though he's up against tough competition (Kubelik, Szell, Reiner, Kertesz, Neumann). Sorry to be so blunt, but I was disappointed by this version.

That's OK, because there is much to like about this set, including the early symphonies (1-6), the violin concerto and the cello concerto, and the interesting interpretation of VII with all that rubato. VIII is good, too.

Four stars for the complete set. I'm not sorry I bought it.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 161 guests