WORKS: Symphony No. 3 in E flat; Symphony No. 7 in D minor
PERFORMER: Vienna PO/Myung-Whun Chung
CATALOGUE NO: 449 207-2
New recordings of Dvorák’s superb Third Symphony are always welcome. The music’s virtuoso combination of Romantic imagination and controlled lyricism form an uninhibited view of symphonic composition which Dvorák only really recaptured in his Eighth.
Myung-Whun Chung seems entirely in sympathy with the spiralling, operatic rhetoric of the symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic plays as if it had the work in its blood. Its way with the familiar Seventh Symphony is also impressive. The sombre tone of the piece is caught splendidly, though I miss a strong engagement with the architecture of the first movement, and the (now customary) reworking of the orchestration in the closing bars is a pity. Nevertheless, this performance will certainly satisfy.
Suitner’s performances of Dvorák’s first three symphonies, reissued last year, were a disappointment with rushed tempi and little feeling for their originality. His readings of Symphonies Nos 6 and 7 are a slight improvement. The radiant opening movement of the Sixth Symphony is hard-edged and the scherzo earthbound; at times the fixation with the bare rhythmic outline is astonishingly crude. On the plus side, the orchestral playing, while not always entirely dependable, shows up some interesting detail, particularly in the louder passages of Symphony No. 7. Jan Smaczny