Dvorak: Symphony No. 7

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WORKS: Symphony No. 7
Colin Davis’s recordings of Dvorák’s Eighth and Ninth Symphonies for LSO Live (reviewed April 2000) are two of the finest performances available of these works. If his rendition of the composer’s Seventh, so very different from both the later symphonies, is not quite in this league, it certainly has remarkable qualities and surpasses his earlier recording with the Concertgebouw (Philips). As with the Eighth Symphony, Davis finds great reserves of drama in the detail of Dvorák’s orchestration and articulation. He is also particularly adept at capturing the dance element in the scherzo – in this case by the infectious treatment of the Furiant cross-rhythms.


Slightly less convincing for me is a feeling for line. If you are after a reading that maximises the more tragic aspects of the piece, then Davis’s version will certainly appeal; there are many places where he seizes the opportunity to focus on the work’s darker side, notably in the first movement and the opening of the last. What seems missing, however, is a strong sense of development in parts of the outer movement, something that Kertész, on his now vintage recording with the LSO from the Sixties, provides in abundance, a quality which makes his performance still one of the most satisfying available. That said, I would certainly not wish to deter anyone from investing in Davis’s account, not least for his marvellous reading of the scherzo. Jan Smaczny