There's no question that anyone who loves Dvorák has to hear Václav Talich's classic recordings of his late symphonic poems. Played by his Czech Philharmonic, Talich's Dvorák is as definitive as possible in this world. His colors are warm, rich, and brilliant. His rhythms are natural, flexible, and irresistible. His sense of musical narrative is cogent, convincing, and compelling. And, of course, his ability to articulate the rise and fall of Dvorák's lyrical melodies is wholly and completely idiomatic. Together, Talich and the Czech players create performances of Dvorák's orchestral settings of his homeland's gruesome fairy tales, which are entertaining, enchanting, and, as befits the subjects, often blood chilling.
The only question is, which edition of the recordings should one hear? After all, the recordings date from the immediate postwar period when recording technology in general and eastern European recording technology in particular was fairly primitive by later standards, and, heretofore, nearly every re-release of Talich's Dvorák has been, at best, dim, distant, and gray. Unfortunately, Supraphon's 2006 Special Talich Edition digital remastering is as dim, distant, and gray as most previous re-releases. So far, the finest remastering of Talich's Dvorák was done for Supraphon's 1993 edition, which gave the recordings about as much bloom, depth, and body as is imaginable under the circumstances. Anyone who loves Dvorák is advised to seek out that reissue. Anyone who can't find that reissue should certainly try to hear this edition, which will perforce have to do until something better comes along.