Dvorak: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Decca Double Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Dvorak: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: LSO/István Kertész
CATALOGUE NO: 466 739-2 Reissue (1967)

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Kertész’s inspired performances, now more than a generation old, of Dvorák’s early symphonies revealed the towering imagination and extraordinary fertility of the young composer. That Dvorák was writing symphonies at all in the symphonic desert of the 1860s is remarkable enough, but it is the quality and sheer originality of the works that impresses with their hints of Bruckner, whose music he didn’t know, pre-echoes of Strauss and abundant signs of the mature Dvorák. The first two symphonies are too long, but Kertész’s committed and intelligent performances transcend these failings while uncovering many treasures. His rendition of the superb Third Symphony encompasses both the magnificent symphonic logic of the first movement as well as the depth and sensuality of its Adagio, one of Dvorák’s most ravishing scores. Landmarks in their day, these superb performances remain unsurpassed; indeed, no conductor has risen more convincingly to these symphonies’ challenges and rewards.

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Jan Smaczny