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Dvorák: Symphony No. 6; Scherzo Capriccioso / Alsop

Album Summary

>Dvorak, Antonin : Symphony no 6 in D major, Op. 60/B 112
>Dvorak, Antonin : Nocturne for String Orchestra in B major, Op. 40/B 47
>Dvorak, Antonin : Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66/B 131
Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

Widely acclaimed for their Naxos recordings of Dvorák's Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8 (8.572112) and No. 9 'From the New World' with the Symphonic Variations (8.570714), Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra here present his Symphony No. 6, which pays tribute both to Dvorák's mentor Brahms and to the rich folk music of his Bohemian homeland. The Nocturne is an arrangement for string orchestra of the beautiful slow movement from his Fourth String Quartet. Suggestive of a celebration of Nature, the Scherzo capriccioso is one of Dvorák's most masterful and colourful works, with a winning principal waltz theme.

"She takes a very literal view of the Sixth, removing the encrustations and performing traditions that are seen as 'typically Czech'. So we have a big and often dramatic reading, dynamics faithfully observed, each movement being shaped in long spans without those unmarked changes of pulse that have become commonplace in Czech orchestra recordings. Neither do we have their dominant horns in the opening movement, the following Adagio emerging without any sentimental overlay or exaggerated cellos in the central section. Alsop ups the adrenalin flow in a fast and urgent Scherzo, the tempo changes smoothed out to give seamless continuity. You may have also grown tired of the overstated pianissimo markings that are here avoided. A big and highly charged finale completes this excellently played and purposeful view of the score. Listen to the detail in the scurrying strings leading into the work's conclusion to appreciate the detailed rehearsal involved. You will find Alsop's avoidance of mannerism continues through the sleepy Nocturne and into a boisterous reading of the Scherzo capriccioso... This new one is among the best presently available. The engineers have captured a nice concert hall balance, with the strings up front and horns and brass set well back, though I guess they have helped the woodwind balance in solo passages. It is good that Naxos have removed audience applause." -David's Review Corner

"If Dvorak lies stylistically between Brahms and Janacek, Alsop's treatment of him leans toward a sunny Brahms. Her main interest is melody, and that is what appeals to me, because melody defines Dvorak more than it does Brahms or Janacek...She just allows Dvorak to sing...The Baltimore Symphony's clear toned woodwinds, polite brass, and dark, creamy strings support these qualities."-American Record Guide

"The jewel in the crown of Marin Alsop's survey of Dvorak's later symphonies is the Ninth. This performance really sits among the best in a crowded field, sounding as fresh as when Dvorak put pen to paper." BBC Music Magazine*****

This is the third release in Marin Alsop's Dvorák cycle with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra...and I have to say that this series is going from strength to strength. Without a doubt, this latest arrival is the best yet, and the previous releases were already in the very-good-to-excellent category.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD.


Dvorak: Symphony No. 6; Scherzo Capriccioso
This new CD from Naxos contains three of Dvorak's best-loved works, all performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop. To attempt to put onto CDs yet another Dvorak symphonic cycle might seem to be economic folly, because these works have been so heavily recorded for the last 60 years by many major orchestras and illustrious conductors. So, measured against this seemingly overwhelming opposition, how does the Baltimore team fare? I find these performances absolutely delightful, and hope for more recordings of Dvorak's symphonies from them. The sixth symphony is beautifully played, and Ms. Alsop treats us to glorious sounds from the orchestra, yet, it seems to me, she pays great attention to all of the nuances and details that together make this a superb symphony. Similarly, the Nocturne receives a fine performance. The final work on the CD is the Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66, and here we come to a discussion point - timing vs. performance. Music critic David Hurwitz (whose opinion I generally respect) calls Alsop's performance "dreary." I disagree profoundly. Certainly, at 15:04, Alsop's timing is the longest of several that I checked, yet to my ears the performance does not drag; on the contrary, she begins crisply, which seems correct to me, and again pays attention to details and brings out the work's lyrical sections beautifully. The fastest performance to which I have access is that by Kosler, who takes 12:55, yet that performance begins languidly; speed isn’t everything! Naxos annotator Keith Anderson's program notes are excellent, as usual, and the sound quality is superb; in my opinion, Dvorak fans can hardly go wrong with this budget-priced CD. Ted Wilks
Submitted on 12/14/10 by Ted Wilks 
Heavenly Dvorak
There are at least two distinct ways to approach Dvorak's Sixth Symphony. Treat it as a deeply serious symphonic masterpiece (as the great Czech conductors Vaclav Neumann and Rafael Kubelik did) or allow it unwind gracefully as an endless river of song (Istvan Kertesz and now Marin Alsop). Both approches have their merits. Neumann's recording captures the Czech Philharmonic at the peak of its form. The interpretation may be subdued, but the score's brilliant colors have never come through more vividly. Kubelik had the Berlin Philharmonic, but his stodgy reading and the flat, dull DG sound take his disc completely out of the running. Kertesz has all the joy and lyricism that's missing from Kubelik, and his London Symphony sounds nearly as opulent as Neumann's intrepid band. Alsop follows in the exuberant footsteps of Kertesz and Leonard Slatkin, whose delightful St. Louis Symphony recording was once available in a limited edition set issued by the orchestra. Her allegros sail along, and she always has a smile on her face--rather like her teacher, Leonard Bernstein. Her tempos are invariably well chosen, and every bar sings. The scherzo could be more incisive, but the blazing finale more than compensates for this minor lapse. The bold sound of the brass in the coda will have you jumping to your feet to shout bravo as the performance ends. The strings seem reedy compared to Supraphon (Neumann) and Decca/London (Kertesz), but otherwise the recording is clean and clear. The "Scherzo capriccioso" is quite similar in style to the Sixth Symphony, alternating joyous outbursts with richly lyrical writing. Alsop's performance is every bit as charming as Neumann's. (Was his delightful Nonesuch LP ever issued on CD?) And her Nocturne is quite touching, if not nearly as languorous or intense as Neumann's heart-rending reading. Overall, though, this is a splendid introduction to these three great scores at a bargain price.
Submitted on 01/25/11 by Tom Godell 
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Works Details

>Antonin Dvorák (1841 - 1904) : Symphony no 6 in D major, Op. 60/B 112
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Notes: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD (2008-03-27&2008-03-28&2008-)
  • Running Time: 45 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Antonin Dvorák (1841 - 1904) : Nocturne for String Orchestra in B major, Op. 40/B 47
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Notes: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD (2008-03-27&2008-03-28&2008-)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: ?01/1875
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Antonin Dvorák (1841 - 1904) : Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66/B 131
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Notes: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD (2009-03-19&2009-03-20&2009-)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Studio/Live: Live