Dvorak: Symphony No. 6, The Water Goblin - Kreizberg
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186302
Classical - Orchestral
Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 in D Op. 60, Vodnik (The Water Goblin) Op. 107
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Yakov Kreizberg (conductor)
Review by Graham Williams - May 20, 2008
In this, his third recording for PentaTone of a Dvorak Symphony, Yakov Kreizberg gives a spacious and somewhat relaxed performance of the 6th Symphony that some may feel is just too laid back. Others will enjoy the opportunity to savour to the full the melodic richness of this wonderfully warm-hearted work in such superb sound.
It is in the first movement that Kreizberg’s propensity to wide tempo variation, particularly between the first and second subjects, is most marked. He does include the important and necessary exposition repeat that is unfortunately omitted in many other recordings but, even allowing for this, at 18’57’’ this is a very expansive first movement indeed.
In contrast the lovely Adagio that follows flows convincingly at an ideal tempo that offers the opportunity to appreciate the fine playing of all sections of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Kreizberg’s tempo for the Scherzo (Furiant) is lively, but more of an Allegro Vivace than the marked Presto, and lacks a little of the forward thrust and spring of some rival versions; however this is in keeping with Kreizberg’s overall view of the piece and the result is not lacking in energy. There is some delicious woodwind playing in the trio section, but one occasionally misses the distinctive timbre that Czech orchestras bring to this music. The Finale is given a spirited performance and its closeness to that of the 2nd Symphony of Brahms is more marked than usual.
Kreizberg’s account of Vodník (The Water Goblin) that was recorded some 18 months before the symphony is an even more involving experience. Erben’s gruesome ballad, which tells the story of the horrific revenge taken by the Water Goblin on the young girl who betrays him, is vividly realised in Dvorak’s masterpiece. The obsessive nature of the creature is immediately established in the opening bars with its insistent eight note motif that threads its way through the whole piece. Kreizberg and his orchestra graphically convey to the listener each episode in the tale. The music of the storm and the moment when the goblin smashes the headless corpse of the young girl’s baby against the door of her hut is terrifyingly realised. As in the previous issue, Dvorak: Symphony No. 8, The Wild Dove, The Noon Witch - Kreizberg, the pictorial nature of these ballads seems to fire the conductor’s imagination even more than in the symphony, and his performance is electrifying from start to finish.
PentaTone’s refulgent and wide ranging recording, taped in the orchestra’s home, the Beurs van Berlage, Yakult Hall, Amsterdam is well up to the house standard making this a most recommendable issue.
Copyright © 2008 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net
Review by John Broggio - August 23, 2008
As a whole the symphony is not first choice but the symphonic poem certainly is recommendable.
The problems in the symphony stem from Kreizberg's apparent belief that a quieter dynamic should lead to a slackening of tempo - especially in the outer movements - this gives the symphony an episodic feel that undermines the quality of the composition and the Netherlands orchestra sounds unconvinced by this approach; consequently, so is the listener. There are better moments - the Furiant in particular is well done and in general, the playing allows every note to be heard. By contrast, the account here Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 - Davis is given a much more idiomatic reading and is far more enjoyable.
By contrast, the fact that symphonic poems are often episodic in nature leads Kreizberg to guard against the very problem that he falls foul of in the symphony and gives a very dramatic and detailed reading that is very enjoyable. The response from the orchestra is also on another level - perhaps Pentatone might consider gathering what is promising to be a very fine cycle of the tone poems into a separate compilation in due course.
The engineering is, as usual, exemplary and allows all the details to be heard - no mean feat in Vodnik!
Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and HRAudio.net