… or is it? Brilliant Classics issued the exact same set under
EMI licence in more basic style only two years ago. They have
done well although the three discs have a slightly lop-sided
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 symmetry would
have been better. However he departed for pastures fresh before
EMI could add the Sixth.
carved out for himself a reputation as a top-rank Tchaikovskian
with his Chandos set of the six numbered symphonies and Manfred.
It’s still a premium item after all these years. Jansons then
jumped ship to EMI Classics. These Dvořák symphonies represent
one of his earliest forays with his new host and rank as pretty
much of a success.
chases selected details of the first movement of number 5 with
a fiery urgency. Small gestures are given a keen impetuous edge.
Yet there is also warmth. The sound is quite gripping.
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. In
the final gestures Jansons again drives an angry edge into the
darker material. The Scherzo Capriccioso is a showcase
for the warmth of the recording in the baritonal range. As a
reading it shows a tendency to slacken the tension although
the grateful folk-dance at 6:10 is a delight as Jansons reasserts
symphonies 7 and 8 has been a popular move since the earliest
days of the compact disc. These are radiant readings with Jansons
making much of the lilt of the third movement of No. 7 and its
mildly tragic occlusion of mood. He brings to the Eighth much
excitement and snap. Even in the pastoral pipings he keeps the
momentum going. His engaging way with the Seventh carries over
into the Allegretto grazioso of No. 8. The brass distinguish
themselves with their rollicking and rolling roar in the finale.
the Ninth. Interesting that, as with Othello, Jansons
brings out parallels with Tchaikovsky – this time the Fifth
Symphony. Split-second simultaneity of attack and an easeful
way with the many lyrical and reflective moments make this memorable.
Smetana Vltava is another strong contender with much
succulent capital made of the effervescent woodwind as well
as the opulent string tone.
If the coupling appeals
this box will serve the listener well and deliver a Dvořák
that is not merely affable but also lyrically urgent.