Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904)
Symphony No. 7 in D minor Op. 70 [37:56]
Symphony No. 8 in G major Op. 88 [37:03]
Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR/Sir Roger Norrington
rec. live, Liederhalle Beethovensaal, Stuttgart, 20-24 April, 30 September 2010
HäNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.277 [74:59]

These two symphonies make an admirable coupling; both amongst the composer’s best works but of dramatically different character. They are even more contrasted than usual here, with the G major Symphony receiving a performance of wonderfully appropriate affection which is never allowed to wallow, whilst the D minor work is treated at times almost brusquely. You would of course never expect that this conductor to be dull, nor is he but he does seem at times to be a little impatient with the work. It is not a bad performance but it is not one that brings out its full drama or makes the most of the subtle rhythmic twists. Phrasing is short-breathed, especially in the first movement, which results in a loss of the impulse that other conductors bring to the work.

Things are however much better in the G major work where the woodwind are encouraged to make the most of their delightful, almost rustic sounding, solos. The strings may seem at times a little underpowered but the ear soon adjusts to their tangy sounds which contrast rather than blend with the woodwind and brass, allowing much detail to emerge.

The recording is generally admirable and conveys the atmosphere of live performances. Even if I was slightly disappointed with the D minor Symphony overall the disc offers lively and idiomatic performances of these two great works.

John Sheppard

Lively and idiomatic performances of these two great works.