> Janacek (Lachian Dances) - Dvorak (Suite in A major) [TB]: Classical CD Reviews- June2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928)
Lachian Dances

Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904)

Suite in A major
Rochester PO/David Zinman
Rec. 29 January 1984, Hochstein Auditorium, Rochester, New York
APEX 7559 79677 2 [47.30]


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David Zinman is an admirable conductor who has built up a distinguished discography over the years, conducting orchestras on either side of the Atlantic. This Apex issue finds him with the Rochester Philharmonic, who play extremely well for him in these two pieces by Janáček and Dvořák.

The recorded sound is not spectacular but it is eminently appropriate and reliable. There is a good sense of perspective and details come through the texture to enliven the musical experience. This is particularly important in Janáček's early Lachian Dances, which for the most part make him sound like a 19th century composer, which he was of course when he wrote them, rather than the 20th century composer his major works show him to be. For we should always remember that he was 46 years old when the new century began.

The Lachian Dances are in the same mould as Dvořák's wonderful Slavonic Dances, and they do not suffer from the comparison. Zinman gives the rhythms a lilting quality, and the orchestra plays with character, giving these genuine folk tunes a spontaneous flow. If anything it is the slower music which is most pleasing of all, thanks to the beguiling phrasing and the attractive melodic contours.

Dvořák's Suite is one of the less famous of his American compositions, but that does not mean that the music is inferior. During the 1890s the composer was at the height of his powers and everything he touched turned to gold. Originally composed for solo piano, it was later orchestrated by the composer, although never performed in this version during his lifetime. The first performance took place in Prague in March 1910, some six years after his death.

The music has an immediate appeal, with typically fresh melodies and lively rhythmic qualities. For all the American connections, the idiom is characteristically Bohemian, and Zinman points the phrasing admirably. With such winning performances, it is therefore the more regrettable that the disc should contain only 47 minutes of music. It is surprising that Apex did not consider this issue when planning the release of this reissue.

Terry Barfoot

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