Spread over nine CDs, this release represents a treasure trove of works by Dvořák, dedicated to and featuring the best of his orchestral music. The composer stands as the most popular of the Czech nationalist movement, one who despite German influences (Dvořák counted Brahms and Wagner among his inspirations) became a byword in the assimilation of folk roots into serious musical composition. Not only did he use existing melodies, but he composed his own folk-based themes too.
Apart from the nine symphonies, which of course include the enduringly popular ‘New World’, written during the composer’s sojourn in America, the compilation also features a series of overtures (such as the famous Carnival Overture, an exuberant celebration of human life at its best), tone poems (A Hero’s Song, which is a sort of Czech equivalent to Strauss’s somewhat later Ein Heldenleben, and four gruesome folk ballads which represent the composer’s Indian Summer, among others), the famous Czech Suite which has a Mozart Serenade quality about it, and the two sets of Slavonic Dances – the first of which represents a tribute from the younger composer to Brahms’s own Hungarian Dances and firmly established Dvořák as a leader of the new Czech national school.
Performing these works is a trio of great ensembles: the Staatskapelle Berlin under their esteemed director of 26 years, Otmar Suitner; The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra – natural experts in this type of repertoire; and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, performing under the baton of Antal Doráti. The edition is an excellent addition to the Brilliant Classics orchestral catalogue and records a crucial facet of the output of one of Europe’s most famous composers.
An excellent bargain set in the best Brilliant Classics tradition: the complete symphonies, symphonic poems, overtures and Slavonic Dances of Antonin Dvořák!
The set contains all the symphonic works which made Dvořák one of the best and universally loved romantic composers (and who knew how to write a good tune!): the 9th symphony “From the New World” (one of the most popular symphonies ever written), the charming Czech Suite, haunting symphonic poems (Noon Witch, the Water Goblin) and the exhilarating complete Slavonic Dances. Music pouring from a warm and fiercely beating heart, in which the folklore of Dvořák’s home country is never far away.
Excellent performances by the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Janáček Philharmonic and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Antal Doráti.
Recorded in 1979 - 2004.
Contains notes on the composer and the music.