Krzysztof Urbański / NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 'From the New World'; A Hero's Song Op. 111

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For this 2017 release from Alpha Classics, Krzysztof Urbański and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra give exciting, if slightly rough-edged, performances of Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World," and the late tone poem A Hero's Song. The symphony is one of Dvorák's most beloved works, not only for its hints at popular American tunes, such as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Turkey in the Straw, or for the original, Bohemian-flavored melody in the second movement which became the pseudo-spiritual, Goin' Home, but also for its vibrant orchestration, dynamic propulsion, and evocative expressions. Urbański and the orchestra are especially tender in the Largo, which for many is the best-known part of the work, though in the other three movements, they play with great rhythmic energy and ferocity, practically making the music jump from the speakers. A Hero's Song, which was the last orchestral work Dvorák composed, is a tone poem without a specific program, though its contrasting moods of turbulence, gloom, joy, and triumph offer a generalized depiction of a hero's life, presumably Dvorák's own. Urbański gives this work a lively treatment, though it is fairly anticlimactic following the vigorous performance of the symphony, which by itself makes this recording worth hearing.

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