One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus

September 2022
Nikolai Medtner
Herbert Blomstedt
Tarrodi Four Elements
Secret Love Letters
Lisa Batiashvili




CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Antonin DVORÁK (1841-1904)
The Symphonies
CD 1
Symphony No. 1 in CO minor Die Glocken von Zlonice (1865) [43:09]
CD 2
Symphony No. 2 in B flat major op. 4 (1865) [45:23]
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major op. 10 (1873) [32:06]
CD 3
Symphony No. 4 in D minor op. 13 (1874) [38:46]
Symphony No. 5 in F major op. 76 (1875) [36:41]
CD 4
Symphony No. 6 in D major op. 60 (1880) [41:26]
Symphony No. 7 in D minor op. 70 (1885) [36:47]
CD 5
Symphony No. 8 in G major op. 88 (1889) [35:20]
Symphony No. 9 in E minor op. 95 Aus der Neuen Welt (1893) [41:54]
Staatskapelle Berlin/Otmar Suitner
rec. Berlin, 1977-1981. ADD
BERLIN CLASSICS BASICS BOX 0300036BC [5 CDs: 43:09 + 77:29 + 75:27 + 78:13 + 77:14]

Experience Classicsonline

When Berlin Classics say ‘Basics’ they mean Basics. There are no liner notes with this set. Nothing. The same, presumably, goes for the others in the series, which so far includes:-

  • 0300035BC Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 - 27 Annerose Schmidt (piano) Dresden Philharmonic/Kurt Masur

  • 0300037BC Schubert Symphonies Nos. 1-9 Dresden Staatskapelle/Herbert Blomstedt

  • 0300038BC Haydn Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-62 Walter Olbertz

On the other hand this is Dvorák we are talking about and information is pretty easily available in libraries and courtesy Bing, Google or other favoured search engine.

The box is a sturdy card wallet design and the individual envelopes are tougher than the usual white slips. The price is also bargain basement so if you felt tempted, as well you might, to explore all of Dvorak’s symphonies you could do very much worse.

The recordings are late analogue and are from the Berlin Classics pre-Unification Eterna label. They have already been reissued on CD at least once before as Berlin Classics 0002783CCC and retail copies of that package are still to be had if a price differential suits.

Until the 1980s, from a western perspective, the record industries of the DDR and the Soviet Union might as well have been parallel universes. The communist states established their own catalogues of the great classics. Soviet activity was let loose on the West through licensing and special import arrangements but these only scratched the surface of a mightily productive Iron Curtain record industry. Since the onset of the CD and Glasnost and Perestroika those record catalogues have opened. Berlin Classics/Edel were quick to liberate parts of the Eterna catalogue or at least the later analogue chapter though they still have not given fully disclosure on the orchestral recordings of Ernst Hermann Meyer. The present Dvorák set forms part of that initiative.

Setting aside various Czech projects 1960s and 1970s record collectors intent on a complete set of Dvorák Symphonies could go to Kubelik on DG, to Rowicki on Philips and to Kertesz on Decca. Kertesz always scored high and his is a desirable set multiply reissued. I have a great deal of time for Rowicki's cycle but here comes Suitner slightly later in the day than the other three with an enthusiastic if slightly stern Germanic cycle.

The First Symphony, as a work, is gently inspired with some good ideas but not sustained across the work's whole length. Some of the young composer’s ideas, as in the finale, tire and lose momentum. Still, there's fun to be had. The reading is lively - it's clear that the musicians are giving it their committed attention and the music must take the blame when our attention drifts. The Second Symphony, especially in its last two movements raises the game with some vigorous and engaging ideas and treatments. The finale drifts into bombast. The Third Symphony makes another step forward in terms of inspiration and - in its three movements to the others' four - makes a good listen. There’s a particularly lively and almost impudent finale.

With the first three works behind us many of us leave behind the unfamiliar. The Fourth Symphony became known in the West shortly after its three predecessors joined the numbered canon in the 1960s. There was a CFP LP (201) of the Fourth by Neumann and the Prague Symphony Orchestra. It's a work with some supple and shapely ideas especially in the stamping final Allegro. It’s not the most exciting of the nine but it goes well enough here. Suitner is a sensitive director and he has no trouble with accepting the Beethovenian episode in the Fourth’s Allegro Molto (rather enchained to the Seventh Symphony). The Scherzo is four-square but the Allegro Con Brio goes with a swing and a sigh if it does not totally avoid the shoals of repetition. We should not look for the satisfactions of the last three symphonies in this work. There are lower key delights but they are definitely lower key. The disc has appeared before as part of a whopping Suitner fest box (see review; see review).

The Fifth and the Sixth are much better and stand near the gateway between the immaturely formed and imagined early symphonies and the perfection of the folk dramas of the last three. With No. 5 we reach what used to be ‘No. 1’ in the old numbering. This works well and is recognisably the mature Dvorák. The outer movements with fragments of Czech dancing have their own life and radiate well-being. Aside from a tendency towards over-dramatising Suitner hits the spot. The Sixth lilts irresistibly in the first movement. The Furiant of the third movement has dizzying power but sufficient torque to decelerate convincingly into those delightful Czech pastoral asides.

The Seventh is a darker-hued work with Brahmsian overtones to set alongside the countryside revels, serenades and dances. The full cream lilt of the third movement is not underplayed. The density of the finale emerges with a stern accent perhaps because it plays so directly to the Staatskapelle's familiarity with the Hamburg composer's Third Symphony. The fugal sturdiness of the finale is not sold short either.

The Eighth sighs sweetly; not overly so in the Adagio though Suitner finds a dignified honey in the Allegretto grazioso. The finale rings out with that judicious juxtaposition of drama in the trumpet fanfares and Nobilmente in the writing for massed strings. This is swirled into a headlong Furiant at 2:10 with time to charm the birds from the trees with the flute solo at 2.34. The finale is evidence of how great an orchestra was the Staatskapelle - a virtuoso ensemble caught in full cry.

If the background to the Eighth is British - it was written for Oxford University - the Ninth is associated with the USA. Suitner's Ninth goads the furies into a headlong chase with black clouds scudding along in the two outer movements. A dignified almost liturgical air hangs over the famous Largo. It is done with a respect that allows the music to emerge with simple beauty. This is one of the most loving and unglamorous versions I have heard; a cleansing draught alongside the lassitude of many more famous readings. The finale leans into four-square rhythmic discipline to set beside the countryside japes.

Recording sessions started in 1979 with the Fifth and culminated in the Seventh and Ninth in 1983 – so just at the dawn of the CD.

Such a pity that Suitner was not also turned loose on the Dvorák tone poems and overtures. Meantime do not disdain this collection.

Rob Barnett



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.