Dvorák Symphonies Nos 3 & 6
The Third and Sixth aren’t Dvoπák’s most often played Symphonies, but they’re two of his most likeable: the Third beginning with an expansive Wagnerian melody, and with some glowing Wagnerian colouring in its central funeral march, but still personal in feeling; the Sixth modelled loosely on Brahms’s Second, but distinctly Czech in flavour, especially in its furiant-time Scherzo. In the third volume of his Dvoπák cycle, José Serebrier performs both works with affection, shaping phrases caressingly and negotiating the many tempo changes with aplomb, and he gets a ready response from the excellent Bournemouth Symphony. But the recorded balance strongly favours the wind section, for example making the opening melody of the Third sound like an oboe solo with the first violins tagging along; and it leaves the violins all too often sounding thin and lacking in bloom.
Among rival versions of the more popular Sixth, there’s no sign of this problem in Chandos’s open recording of Jirˇí Beˇlohlávek’s genial and similarly well-paced account with the Czech Philharmonic. But that’s surpassed by István Kertész’s classic Decca reading with the LSO, full of an intensity that imbues every phrase with inner life and purpose, and with an immediate recording to match. Serebrier’s more relaxed performance will still give much pleasure, though, and the coupling with the Third is a generous one, lasting only a second short of the nominal maximum of 80 minutes: a timing achieved with all the repeats intact, and with the pauses between movements and works sounding unhurried – just!