Dvorák: Symphonies Nos. 6-9

Colin Davis / London Symphony Orchestra

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Dvorák: Symphonies Nos. 6-9 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Multiple-disc packages usually aren't cheap, and sets of live performances recorded over several years are often risky propositions, because sound quality and performance values can be inconsistent from one disc to the next. Were it not for Sir Colin Davis' reliable and solid interpretations and the generally high caliber playing of the London Symphony Orchestra in these concert recordings of Dvorák's symphonies Nos. 6-9, this three-disc compendium could easily be dismissed for more trustworthy studio versions. The reproduction overall is a little stuffy and not remarkably vivid; the acoustics of the Barbican are not particularly resonant (especially with a full audience present); and sound levels vary between the somewhat muted 1999 recordings of the Symphony No. 8 in G major and the Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World," and the much clearer 2001 recording of the Symphony No. 7 in D minor -- the most riveting of the set -- and the 2004 recording of the Symphony No. 6 in D major. Yet with some patience, and diligent adjustments of the volume, this collection is satisfactory for its competent music-making, and worthwhile as an introduction to Dvorák's major symphonies. Davis' Philips twofer with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (without the Symphony No. 6) might also suffice for beginners' purposes, though, and at a considerable savings.

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