Dvorák: Symphony No 8, The Wild Dove, Etc / Kreizberg, Et Al
DVO?ÁK Symphony No. 8. The Wild Dove. The Noon Witch • Yakov Kreizberg, cond; Netherlands PO • PENTATONE 5186 065 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 71:53)
Yakov Kreizberg has already developed a significant reputation as a PentaTone artist specializing in Russian music, and acting as a sensitive accompanist for violinist Julia Fischer in her critically acclaimed recordings. He has also provided evidence of an affinity for the music of Dvo?ák in the recording studio and the concert hall. Kreizberg’s PentaTone recording of the “New World” Symphony is very competitive, despite the unfortunate coupling of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. I have also heard him conduct a scintillating performance of The Water Goblin in 2005 with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Now he turns to the Symphony No. 8, more appropriately combined with two more of Dvo?ák’s colorful tone poems based on the folk ballads of Karel Jaromir Erben.
The competition is formidable with the Eighth Symphony. Ivan Fischer gives a nearly ideal, lyrical performance on a Philips SACD with surprisingly good sound. Antal Dorati’s hell-bent-for-leather interpretation is available on a standard Mercury CD, but the best of all is probably Istvan Kertesz’s version on Decca/London. No one captures the natural swing of Dvo?ák’s music without sacrificing rhythmic precision and excitement as well as Kertesz does, and the Eighth is the best performance in his Dvo?ák cycle. Kreizberg steers a course somewhere between Fischer’s lyricism and Dorati’s drama. His slow presentation of the opening melody followed by a fiery allegro sets up a nice dynamic contrast. He plays the crucial dramatic pauses in the second movement effectively, and he builds the climaxes slowly and grandly without making it sound like Götterdämmerung . The fourth movement is excellent. Kreizberg generates plenty of excitement without becoming hysterical (though the French horns could have benefited from a tighter leash). My principal complaint is that Kreizberg sounds a little stiff compared to Fischer’s more pliable application of that crucial rhythmic lilt. Of course, no one swings in this music like Kertesz. Kreizberg’s approach to the tone poems is similar, and The Wild Dove is special. He again presents some tremendous dramatic contrasts, but the lighter, dance-like sections don’t go as well in The Noon Witch . This is probably the best recording of The Wild Dove in terms of performance and sound.
In stereo, PentaTone’s engineers have achieved a realistic presentation of the orchestra, with a wide and deep soundstage from a fifth-row perspective. The sound is dark in coloration and just a bit dry when compared to Fischer and Kertesz. The timpani that are so critical to Dvo?ák’s rhythmic accents are sharply articulated despite being appropriately placed in the back of the orchestra without artificial spotlighting. The multichannel version again emphasizes that PentaTone’s engineers have few, if any, peers in high-resolution surround-sound recordings. The combination of ambient information, fine inner detail, and dynamic headroom is outstanding. The climaxes are reproduced with effortless ease.
These are fine performances with excellent sound, but they do not necessarily displace the rival SACD and CD versions. Unless you are willing to duplicate (and Kertesz never recorded The Wild Dove ), your final choice may come down to the couplings. Fischer combines the Eighth and the Ninth Symphonies, and Dorati includes the Seventh and Eighth. Dorati’s white-hot readings won’t be for everyone, but will be irreplaceable for those who prefer his approach. Kreizberg gives us two of those amazing tone poems with more (one hopes) to follow if he records the Seventh Symphony.
FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
Catalog Number: PTC5186065
Composer: Antonín Dvořák
Conductor: Yakov Kreizberg
Orchestra/Ensemble: Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra