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Dvorák: Symphonies 3 & 7 - Bosch

Dvorák: Symphonies 3 & 7 - Bosch

Coviello Classics  COV 31212

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Dvorák (1841-1904)
Symphonies No. 3 & No. 7

Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg
Marcus Bosch (conductor)

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Review by John Miller - March 25, 2015

This is the third volume of Marcus Bosch's much praised projected complete set of Dvorák's symphonies with the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg. The Third and Seventh symphonies on thisSA-CD are the two shortest of Dvorák's symphonic output. For some unstated reason, the Seventh comes first on the disc. Perhaps the intention was to present the dark, deeply classical work first, so that the positive and often opulent Third benefits from the contrast of moods.

For the Seventh, Bosch uses a new edition by Jonathan Del Mar, published by Bärenreiter. This is the first major symphony of Dvorák to be issued in a critical new edition. Del Mar has previously won international recognition for his editions of Dvorák’s Cello Concerto and his new edition sets the highest scholarly standards, without losing sight of the practical requirements of today’s musicians. The most noticeable change to the new version is that Bosch has elected to use the recent discovery of the original version of the second movement, which is supplied in the Del Mar Edition as an Appendix to the full score and orchestral parts. This Andante sostenuto, some 50 bars longer than a revision which Dvořák prepared after he conducted the English première, becomes a rather more tranquil Poco adagio, and this cutting of the first score has been the standard ending to the slow movement - until now.

Bosch's fine performance of the Seventh supports many musicologist's assertion that the Seventh is without doubt the best of Dvorák’s symphonies. The orchestra respond to the work's Brahmsian passion and drama as well as they do the lilting Bohemian dance interludes, particularly in the delightful scherzo. The often sublime woodwind and horns are appropriately tonally characterful in a South Germany/Czechoslovakian style. However, one slight issue about the orchestra is that they do not correctly follow the dynamic markings of piano and pianissimo, both of which emerge as a generalised "piano".

The Third symphony (1871-1873) is, I must confess, one of my favourites. In three movements, it radiates Dvorák’s confidence in symphonic writing, which brought him to Brahms' attention. The first movement is a one-subject sonata form, a variety which Haydn often used. Dvorák’s glorious theme is probably picturing the River Vltava which runs through Bohemia and was frequently alluded to in his works. The unforgettable melody surges forward, full of Life's anticipation, and parts of it are used in the dramatic development section, finally sweeping back whole again to affirm the composer's youthful strident energy.

There are some disagreements amongst conductors about the seeming contradiction of the specification of "Adagio molto, tempo di marcia" for the middle movement. Bosch and Neeme Järvi take the march indication for their basic tempo, while Václav Smetácek and Václav Neumann take the "Adagio molto" as theirs. Both are valid, certainly, but the brisker speed holds the movement together better, flowing and glowing with Dvorák’s homage to Wagner's Tannhauser. Another exhilarating tune opens the Finale, piccolo and triangle setting its overall Romantic humour, one feature being the return of part of the first movement's key tune. Bosch and his orchestra relish the tight structure of this movement, extracting amusement with its brief quotes from Tannhäuser and a deliberately rhythmic mess near the end, which leads to the final acclamation. Why this splendid symphony is not in regular repertoire I don't know, but perhaps Bosch's thrilling version here, the best I have heard so far, might help Symphony Three on its way.

Mielke Bergfeld's Musikproduktion company are well known for their expertise in producing excellent concert captures, using their own specially equipped control room and recording van. The discreet ambience of the Meistersinger Hall sounds fine in Bergfeld's well-balanced stereo, but it comes to life in the 5.0 multichannel track, where the sonic location of every instrumental group in a wide and deep perspective makes for a very realistic recording.

The use of Del Mar's Urtext, including the original, longer, version of the second movement of the Seventh symphony is unique at the time of writing, and thus the issue is invaluable for collectors of Dvorak's symphonies. Bosch's excellent renderings of the early symphonies so far bodes well for the rest of them. A most attractive issue, definitely recommended, and if you haven't heard the Third Symphony, buy this disc.

Copyright © 2015 John Miller and HRAudio.net

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