It is an exciting prospect for the Bavarian Radio
Symphony Orchestra, undoubtedly one of the world’s finest orchestras,
to collaborate with Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons. Here is a man
who is is carving out a wonderful career and was recently appointed
music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from the 2014/2015 season.
This exciting new BR Klassik release of two Dvořák scores
is taken from separate Munich concerts: the much loved Ninth and the
attractive if rather neglected A Hero
Dvořák’s From the New World
was commenced in
1893 during his trip to America. The work feels infused with the composer’s
nostalgic yearnings for his Czech homeland. During his stay in America
it is known that Dvořák had heard Negro spirituals and native
American music. He told the Chicago Tribune that he had attempted to
“portray musical characteristics that were clearly American
In this 2010 performance it feels as if the Bavarian Radio Symphony
Orchestra has established a special rapport with Nelsons. Marshalling
his sections with conspicuous assurance Nelsons leads a performance
of innate energy and vibrancy. It feels a notch or two above the routine
standard of playing that this work often produces. I love the freshly
sprung rhythms together with the remarkable passion and power of the
opening movement with its deep seam of nostalgia. The haunting pathos
of the captivating Largo
is outstanding. It features the well
known melody for the reedy cor anglais
and that solo is splendidly
played. Nelsons’ balancing of the orchestral textures and tempi
in the ebullient Scherzo
is outstanding too. The bold and forthright
metes out weight, power, passion and drama in a compelling
Dvořák began his A Hero
four years after the Ninth. The composer had become enthusiastic with
the genre of the symphonic poem, describing them as orchestral ballads.
is his fifth such work. Unlike Dvořák’s
other four symphonic poems that follow a literary programme this one
is thought to be an autobiographical picture of the composer in the
manner of Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben
it is roughly contemporaneous. Inexplicably the score is often overlooked
in the concert hall but it is by no means the only Dvořák
work suffering neglect. For example I find it rare to hear a performance
of the Piano Concerto
. The palpable neglect of A Hero
was demonstrated in 2005 when Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner
Philharmoniker released a recording of the Dvořák Tone
and overlooked A Hero
. This 2012
performance helps to redress the balance as Nelsons presides over some
quite marvellous orchestral playing. In what feels like a spontaneous
reading, agreeably shaped with plenty of sweep and breadth the result
is highly satisfying.
The sound quality of these live BR Klassik recordings is of the good
standard that I would expect from this experienced Bavarian radio broadcaster.
The symphony, recorded in the Herkulessaal, Munich, is vividly clear,
however, I do have a slight reservation with A Hero
recorded in the Philharmonie, Munich; it feels just a touch
congested in the forte
passages. No applause has been left in
on either score.
Throughout these performances the well rounded Bavarian brass blaze
splendidly and the unified string sound radiates an attractive bloom.
Delightfully pleasing to the ear the impeccable woodwind section is
kept extremely busy and deserves praise.
This BR Klassik disc is a triumph for Andris Nelsons and the Bavarian
Radio Symphony Orchestra and it is hard to imagine finer performances
of these Dvořák scores.
Masterwork Index: Dvorak