Brilliant Classics continue their journey
through the back catalogues. Here they
tap into the EMI Classics shelves. They
have done well although the three discs
have a lop-sided incomplete feel with
only four of the Dvořák Nine. Looking
back at the now almost forgotten old
numbering they represent numbers 1,
3, 4, and 5. Had Jansons recorded number
6 the coupling balance would have been
better. However he departed for pastures
fresh before EMI could add the Sixth.
Having carved out for
himself a reputation as a top rank Tchaikovskian
with his Chandos set of the six numbered
symphonies and Manfred - still a premium
item after all these years - Jansons
then had moved company to
EMI Classics. These Dvořák symphonies
represent one of their earliest forays
and they are pretty much of a success.
Jansons chases selected
details of the first movement of number
5 with a fiery urgency. Small gestures
which always had an excitement are given
a keen impetuous edge. Yet there is
also warmth there. The sound is quite
gripping - though curiously lacking
body and immediacy at times in the string
Othello is superbly
done including a lightning sharpness
in the little instrumental flurries
at the start. Is it my imagination or
does Jansons bring out parallels with
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth and Hamlet at circa
3.00? The romance of the score sings
in ingenuous candour at 5:34 onwards
and in the final gestures Jansons again
whips an edge of anger into the darker
material. The Scherzo Capriccioso
is a showcase for the warmth of
the recording in the baritonal range
but as a reading it shows a tendency
to slacken off the tension although
the grateful folk dance at 6:10 is a
delight as Jansons reasserts his grip.
7 and 8 has been a popular move since
the earliest days of the compact disc.
And these are radiant readings with
Jansons making much of the canorial
lilt of the third movement of No. 7
and its mildly tragic occlusion of mood.
He brings to the Eighth much excitement
and snap and even in the pastoral pipings
keeps momentum going. His lilting way
with the Seventh carries over into the
Allegretto grazioso of No. 8.
The brass distinguish themselves with
their rollicking rolling roar in the
Finally the Ninth.
Interesting that as with Othello
Jansons brings out parallels with
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth. Split-second simultaneity
of attack and an easeful way with the
many lyrical and reflective moments
in this work make this a memorable version.
The Smetana Vltava
is another strong contender with
much succulent capital made of the effervescent
woodwind as well as the opulent string
One gripe: I regret
Brilliant’s decision to present these
three discs in a double width casing.
Wallet format would have been preferable.
are many versions of the Dvořák
symphonies from which to choose. If
the coupling appeals this box will serve
the listener well and deliver a Dvořák
that is not merely affable but also