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Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 (From the New World)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

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Symphony No. 9 (From the New World)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Mariss Jansons
RCO Live RCO 04002

Since its spectacularly successful premiere in 1893, Dvorák’s Symphony From the New World has enjoyed almost universal popularity. The composer was quick to realise its star potential and volunteered it for programming on a number of occasions and he himself conducted it in the inaugural concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1896. That its attractions continue to captivate the listening public both at home and in the concert hall is a tribute to Dvorák’s extraordinary ability to read his audience.

Mariss Jansons’s version of the New World joins over a hundred others in the catalogue and stands high in their company, not far behind Kertész’s excellent vintage performance with the London Symphony Orchestra (currently only available as part of a six-CD complete cycle). The wind and string sections of the Concertgebouw in concert provide a wonderfully vibrant sound and nowhere is there a hint that familiarity has bred any sort of contempt. Jansons maximises dynamic contrast excitingly throughout and injects real epic sweep into the outer movements. The waltz-like trio of the scherzo ambles along a little too amiably and some may find parts of the finale a touch too pungently characterised, but, superbly recorded, this is a performance to which to return often.

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Jan Smaczny