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Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 - Orozco-Estrada

Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 - Orozco-Estrada

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186575

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Dvorak: Symphony No. 6; Slavonic Dances Op. 46 No. 8 & Op. 72 No. 3

Houston Symphony
Andrés Orozco-Estrada (conductor)


Antonín Dvořák dedicated his Symphony No. 6 in D major to Hans Richter, who was the director of the Vienna Philharmonic and who had commissioned the symphony. When Dvořák finished composing it in October 1880, Richter seemed to be very enthusiastic about the work. However, the planned premiere in December 1880 was postponed several times and out of frustration Dvořák had the symphony premiered in Prague by a different orchestra in March 1881. It was eventually conducted by its dedicatee, Hans Richter in London in 1882, where it became a great favourite with the English public.

The symphony combines elements of the symphonic tradition of Brahms, whom Dvořák admired greatly, with influences of Czech folk music. The same Czech folk music, which earlier on inspired Dvořák to write the Slavonic Dances op. 46 and op. 72, drew peoples’ attention not only to Dvořák as a composer, but to the Czech music world in general.

On this album Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 is paired with Slavonic Dance op. 72, No. 3 and Slavonic Dance op. 46, No. 8, recorded in September 2015 by the Houston Symphony under the direction of Colombian conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada, the orchestra’s music director since 2014.

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Review by Graham Williams - July 18, 2016

This recording of Dvorak's exhilarating 6th Symphony is the third release from Andrés Orozco-Estrada following his signing with the PENTATONE label, and as with his previous Dvorak issue Dvořák: Symphonies 7 & 8 - Orozco-Estrada he is again at the helm of the fine Houston Symphony of which he is the current Music Director.

This label already has a beautifully recorded and thoroughly enjoyable version of this Symphony in their catalogue Dvorak: Symphony No. 6, The Water Goblin - Kreizberg that appeared as recently as 2008, so it is frustrating that Andrés Orozco-Estrada is not championing one of more Dvorak's early five symphonies rather than recording a work that is already well represented on disc and which here competes with Kreizberg's version for collector's attention.

That said there is little doubt that Orozco-Estrada's performance is more compelling than Kreizberg's, thanks both to the greater impetus and propulsive vitality of the former in all four movements and more assured and vibrant orchestral playing from the Houston Symphony. Throughout, the warmth of the Houston strings is matched by engagingly polished woodwind playing and rich burnished brass. The fierce energy this conductor brings to the Furiant ( 3rd movement ) is undoubtedly thrilling while the entrancing playing he elicits from his orchestra in the movement's pastoral trio section is especially lovely.

The disc is completed with just two of Dvorak's most popular Slavonic Dances (Op. 72, No. 3 and Op. 46, No. 8) that together last a mere eight minutes and provide a rather meagre fill-up for a disc whose total playing time is only 51' 36”. Though the performances are robust and forceful they do lack the idiomatic charm of many Czech accounts (Kubelik, Ancerl et.al.) .

The excellent 5.0 multi-channel DSD recording from the experienced hands of John Newton and Mark Donahue is, as one might expect, expertly balanced allowing every detail of Dvorak's orchestration to be clearly audible yet still presenting a wide and solid orchestral image within the warm acoustic of the Jesse H Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. Houston, Texas.

Competition on disc in this Symphony is very fierce, and though I don't feel that Andrés Orozco-Estrada's account of it makes a notable contribution to what is already available, his straightforward interpretation delivered in excellent recorded sound is unlikely to disappoint.

Copyright © 2016 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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Comment by hiredfox - August 2, 2016 (1 of 1)

There is little to recommend with this new recording of Dvorak's 6th. Neither the conductor nor the Houston ensemble can lay claim to being in the first rank of international performers and it shows in a lack of fluidity, some hesitancy notably in the second movement and more than a few instances of imprecise musicianship. Pacing is a little inconsistent. It starts well enough, a little too briskly perhaps for some tastes but soon settles into a somewhat more measured pace that fails to pick up the essential rhythms of the work or to grab the listener's attention. I hope this is not too harsh a judgement but there are many fine competing recordings available even on SACD, so for me Macal on Exton is a very good stop-gap unless or until Kertesz becomes available on SACD.