Vaclav Talich

Dvorák: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7

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While listening to this coupling of his Sixth and Seventh symphonies, it is easy to think of Dvorák as perhaps the greatest composer who ever lived, Czech or otherwise. In these 1938 recordings with Vaclav Talich leading the Czech Philharmonic, the smiling joy of the Sixth from its graceful opening Allegro non tanto to its exhilarating closing Allegro con spirito is utterly irresistible and wholly life-affirming, but, even better, the grim power of the Seventh, from its fierce opening Allegro maestoso to its ferocious closing Allegro is unbearably moving. First, there's Talich: a magisterial conductor who leads the players with deep love, tremendous strength, and not a little raw fear. Second, there's the Czech Philharmonic: a wonderful orchestra with its own unique tonal warmth and rhythmic lift. Third, there's the repertoire: two symphonies that ought to rank at the top of the Romantic pantheon in terms of intensity, originality, and compositional virtuosity -- but too often don't. Fourth and finally, there's the combination of performers and repertoire -- who better than the Czech's to play Dvorák? -- that makes these performances among the most compelling of anything ever recorded. Although EMI's recorded sound is inevitably antique, Supraphon's 24-bit digital remastering has removed most of the noise and revealed all the music in the aged tapes.

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